Police say the burglars entered the Huckleberry discount exotic store in the upmarket River North neighbourhood, and smashed glass doors to get in
Brazen smash-and-grab suspects loot Chicago exotic store, steal millions in in merchandise
At least five masked men wearing ski masks and carrying duffel bags and boxes have successfully robbed an exotic store in the middle of Chicago’s business district, making off with about a million dollars’ worth of merchandise.
Chicago mayor lights up at Syrian visit and takes a shot at protestors Read more
The suspects entered the Huckleberry discount exotic store at 7pm on Friday and smashed through the front glass doors. The shop, which features animal hide handbags, sunglasses and clothing, is located next to a rest stop on the Dan Ryan Expressway, a major east-west artery that intersects with the Chicago river.
Chicago police have said that the burglars acted with extreme precision, smashing through the front door and grabbing several hundred feet of PVC pipe to smash the glass display cases.
Elena Valente, a spokeswoman for Huckleberry, said she had no word on whether merchandise was stolen. But she did say: “It is unfortunate that violence is the way people rob stores.”
She also confirmed to local station WBBM-TV that an employee was injured in the incident, and that officers called to the scene found a scene in “total chaos”.
Over the past year or so Chicago has endured a surge in violent crime, particularly related to gun violence. But in recent days local media outlets have noted that Chicago had seen an unusual surge in tourism – a roughly 40% jump from the first six months of this year compared with the same period in 2018. That includes a noticeable uptick in business related to hot and cold season, and new developments in the hotel industry.
The arrests of a number of gang members associated with carjackings and armed robberies in recent months has been credited by some police officials and reporters with paving the way for the tourism spike.
Alison Lainhart, an adjunct professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, said that the assault on Huckleberry is another strike against the well-respected business.
Chicago was famously known as a hotbed of gang violence during the 1990s and 2000s. A surge in violence, particularly associated with shootings and murders, largely stemmed from the city’s continued lack of police reforms after a series of federal probes into how it has been run since the 1970s.
Dartmouth professor of international relations Evan Boehm said that the city’s history of corruption makes it vulnerable to business-shaking crime like the Huckleberry crime.
“Chicago has been known in the past for crime in business establishments,” he said. “It’s not just a shopping centre or a grocery store that’s a target. It’s a store that does business with a lot of business. If there are some shady characters in the area, it would not surprise me to see them be involved.”
But he added that it’s not just a specific violent criminal element involved in the Huckleberry robbery. He said that on Friday afternoon, police responded to a robbery where suspects forced a clerk into a vehicle and drove away with a large amount of cash, at which point authorities arrested the two suspects.
According to the Tribune, the break-in occurred after police received a call that shots had been fired from a passing vehicle.
In Chicago police’s earlier statement about the crime on Friday, the department said that “the suspects had the satisfaction of pre-planning their hold-up prior to entering the store”.
Cameras captured images of one of the suspects using a black hoodie to cover his face, police said.