Updated 07/30/12 – 5:54 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — After posting surveillance video of a flash mob robbery online and sharing the video with CBS 2 News, a Wicker Park store owner said he and police have received several tips about the group of about 20 teens responsible for stealing more than $3,000 worth of jeans over the weekend.
CBS 2’s Derrick Blakley reports Mildblend Supply Co. owner Luke Cho posted the surveillance video on YouTube, hoping the images help police find the robbers, or maybe even shame the parents of the teens enough that they’ll turn the kids in.
A spokesperson for the Chicago Police Department said the case is being actively investigated.
CBS 2’s Courtney Gousman reports, in the meantime, Cho said tips have been rolling into his store ever since posting surveillance video of the robbery on YouTube and sharing the video with CBS 2, which first aired the video on Sunday.
From the moment the teens started flooding in the door his store on Milwaukee Avenue around 6:40 p.m. Saturday, Cho knew something wasn’t right.
“You see a group a group of teenagers walking in – or marching in – one-by-one. As you can see, it looks like it’s some kind of procession,” Cho said while reviewing the surveillance video on Sunday.
To Cho, it looked like a flash mob was about to rob the store, so he immediately locked the door.
“At least I think I kind of maybe stopped the flow a little bit, but I quickly realized something bad’s about to happen, and I alerted my staff to call 911,” Cho said.
Most of the group flocked to an corner of the store right beneath a security camera, and appeared to know exactly what they were looking for: an exclusive, expensive brand of jeans called Nudie Jeans, which average about $200 a pair.
“We happen to be one of the few that sell Nudie Jeans in the city,” Cho said.
Cho said he doesn’t think the jeans are all that special, but they’ve become popular because a famous rapper was filmed wearing them.
After grabbing the jeans, the teens tried to get out of store, but not before doing more shopping, stuffing their backpacks with merchandise, while other teens outside tried to get in.
“At the time when I locked the door, they’re banging on the door,” Cho said.
Eventually, the teens figured out how to unlock the door themselves, and rushed into the streets, which were packed with crowds from the Wicker Park Fest, making it easier to blend in.
Cho called the incident organized looting, pure and simple.
Cho said he’s received all kinds of tips about the guys who executed this robbery.
“We have … customers coming in to identify some of the kids in the video,” he said.
Cho said, out of the 22 people he believes were part of the flash mob, he actually has names for about six of them. He also said police have received tips on the robbery.
Cho said he even knew one of the teens he believes was involved.
“I recognized him, because I caught him shoplifting here, and I didn’t call the police. I called the parents,” he said.
Monday morning, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he’s taken the issue up with Police Supt. Garry McCarthy.
“I’ve talked to … Garry McCarthy and the Police Department. They’re looking into that and we’ll get back on that,” Emanuel said.
Other business owners in Wicker Park said they fear it could happen again.
Belmont Army owner Tony Lee said, “There’s only so much you can do to prevent that. If someone really wants to do it, what are you going to do?”
Ironically, Cho said his store will be promoting Nudie Jeans during a special event on Aug. 9. He said, since the flash mob robbery, he’s hired police officers to secure that event.
Another Wicker Park store manager said he’s familiar with these flash mobs, from working at a downtown business. He said much of the stolen merchandise is often sold on the city’s public transportation routes.