CHICAGO — A vintage clothing store in Wicker Park is picking up the pieces after thieves stole thousands of dollars worth of merchandise in another crash-and-grab burglary involving a stolen car.
It’s the latest in a recent string of burglaries involving assailants who crash a vehicle into a storefront to gain entry, and some business owners feel that they can’t do anything to prevent it.
At 4:40 a.m. on Saturday morning, surveillance video captured the moment thieves took off with a Jeep Grand Cherokee. Only minutes later, surveillance video from Urban Jungle, a vintage clothing store in Wicker Park, captured that same vehicle crashing through the store’s glass window.
“Pretty quick thing. They were in here for about like four or five minutes, but, like I said, they were able to make off with quite a few handfuls of stuff,” Jeff, the co-owner of Urban Jungle, said.
According to police, a group of five individuals forced their way into the store, took as much as they could, and fled the scene in two vehicles waiting nearby.
The store’s co-owners said the group made off with somewhere between $75,000 and $90,000 worth of merchandise during the destructive break-in.
“We’ve had break-ins, but not really been, I guess, this much stuff taken. We had a little break-in, in September, but it was kind of minor, not really, under $10,000 worht of stuff,” Jeff said.
It is the latest incident of its kind in recent days. Police say suspects have hit other high-end stores in the South Loop, River North, River East and East Village.
Some customers say they are stunned to see the burglaries happening so frequently.
“It’s just tragic for like every store owner, every business owner right now. Because it’s like, you don’t know what store is going to hit next,” one customer said.
The Urban Jungle co-owner said after hearing about the ongoing crime spree, he wanted to avoid becoming a target and contacted the Wicker Park Chamber of Commerce about having barriers placed in front of his store, but help never came.
“We were supposed to have planters here yesterday by 2 p.m., and that never happened,” Jeff said. “And unfortunately this is the result. I feel like we’re almost sitting ducks in a way.”
Jeff and his team still planned to open on Saturday but spent their morning cleaning up shattered glass and debris and making repairs.
“We know that these guys are striking at 4 to 5 a.m., we should really boost police presence,” Jeff said.
Even after the devastating break-in, Jeff said the store still plans to give back by hosting a sneaker giveaway for its customers.
“Just trying to put our best foot forward. It is the busiest day of the week, Saturday, so we’re just trying to have a silver lining to this,” Jeff said.
No injuries have been reported as a result of the burglaries and no arrests have been made.