2 held for Near West Side, Lincoln Square neighborhood robberies

Authorities are questioning a man and a woman in connection with a string of robberies including two during which the attackers threatened to set off a bomb inside a pizzeria and pulled a sawed-off shotgun or small rifle inside a 7-Eleven on the Near West and Lincoln Square neighborhood Friday and Thursday, police said.

No charges have been filed this morning but the two, a 31-year-old man and 35-year-old woman, of the Near West Side, were both arrested in the 4400 block of South Archer Avenue at 6:05 p.m. Friday after a witness identified them from one of the recent incidents, police said. They remain in custody Saturday morning.

Around 2 a.m. Friday, a man and a woman entered Sarpino’s at 627 W. Lake St. with scarves around their faces and gloves on, police said. They ordered a pizza and sat down at a table, but after about a minute the man went to the counter and showed a worker what looked like an explosive device and told the worker to open the registers, according to a police report.

The worker handed over cash, but the man then said he would “push the button” if the safe wasn’t opened. The pair and the worker went into an office, where the robbers took the rest of the register money and the money from the safe, the report said.

A video shows the man also taking a 2-liter bottle of soda as he and the woman fled with $1,200, police said. Several employees were inside at the time.

The pair match the description of two people who had robbed a 7-Eleven at 2323 W. Lawrence Ave. in the Lincoln Square neighborhood around 10:30 p.m. Thursday, police said.

A man and a woman walked in, and the woman asked a clerk about lottery tickets while the man grabbed a Slurpee and pulled a sawed-off shotgun or “small rifle” and said, “Open the register n—–’’ to a worker, the report said.

The man left the Slurpee behind and the two fled with $60, which the woman placed in a black purse, police said. The woman was carrying a duffle bag with an orange and blue Miller Lite logo around her shoulder.

No one was injured in either of the recent robberies.

The woman was described as white, about 40, 5-foot-5 to 5-foot-6, 150 to 160 pounds, with blonde streaks in her hair. The man was described as white, between 5-foot-10 to 5-foot-11 and weighing 160 pounds.  He was wearing dark clothing, a baseball cap and a dark scarf.

In addition to these incidents, police earlier this week had sent out an alert cautioning businesses on the Near West side after a man and woman pulled similar armed robberies this past weekend. The alert indicates that a male offender uses a shotgun-type weapon to rob restaurants and food delivery drivers. A female companion may be acting as a lookout, according to the alert issued on March 25.

While police are not publicly connecting the incidents, on March 22, a business was robbed on the 200 block of South Leavitt Street at 9:30 p.m. and another business was robbed on the 2300 block of West Madison Street on March 23 at 8:15 p.m., according to the alert.

The alert describes the suspects in the weekend incidents as a white man between 27 and 30 year of age, between 5 feet 7 inches and 6 feet tall and between 160 and 170 pounds. The woman is described as a white, between 30 and 35 years of age, 5 feet 2 inches tall and with black hair.

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