Chicago news crew robbed at gunpoint while covering armed robbery

AP Photo/Teresa Crawford

How well are Chicago’s restrictive gun laws working out? Pretty good, at least from the perspective of armed criminals, who have an almost endless supply of unarmed victims to choose from. The website CWBChicago reports that at least 30 people were targeted by armed robbers in a twelve hour span Sunday night into Monday morning, including a news crew who had set up a live shot at the scene of an earlier robbery.

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The newspeople were in the 1200 block of North Milwaukee early Monday when three or four masked men robbed them, according to preliminary information from the scene. An officer said the robbers were Black males wearing ski masks—one with a rifle, the others with handguns.

Without identifying the victims as a news crew, a Chicago police spokesperson confirmed that a 28-year-old man and a 42-year-old man were outside in the 1200 block of North Milwaukee when a black SUV and a gray sedan pulled up around 4:53 a.m.

Three men got out of the vehicles wearing ski masks and displaying guns. They took the victims’ belongings and fled southbound, police said. An initial police dispatch said the robbers took the journalists’ TV camera, but that has not been confirmed. They are the second Chicago TV news unit to be robbed this month.

Earlier, a woman was carjacked on the same block. Police said three men got out of a blue sedan around 10:12 p.m. One pointed a gun at her and took control of her white Ford Escape.

According to Chicago police, a gray sedan was also used by a robbery crew on Saturday and Sunday, with dozens of victims reporting similar encounters with the armed men. While homicides in Chicago are down by roughly 7% this year compared to 2022, the number of robberies reported across the city is soaring.

It’s been more than a month since Ald. Daniel La Spata (1st) promised his constituents that police had a “concrete and collaborative plan” to address the relentless robbery crews that had been victimizing residents of his ward and neighboring areas.

While police have had some successes, the robberies continue unabated.

Robbery reports are up 22% this year, according to CPD’s latest statistics report. But some areas, particularly Humboldt Park, West Town, and Logan Square, have been especially hard-hit.

In the Austin (25th) District, which includes the west side of Humboldt Park, robberies are up 107% this year. For the 28 days ending Monday, robberies were 322% higher than the same period last year.

The Shakespeare (14th) District, which includes the eastern part of Humboldt Park and Logan Square, West Town, Bucktown, Wicker Park, and parts of Avondale, is seeing a 49% increase in robberies this year. The last 28 days were 190% higher than last year.

Robberies are up 54% this year in CPD’s Near West (12th) District, which includes parts of West Town and the Near West Side, much of the West Loop, Fulton Market, and Pilsen.

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One big reason for the increase in these types of crimes is that the perpetrators have little fear or concern about being caught. According to the most recent annual report by the Chicago Police Department, in 2021 police made arrests in just 28% of reported robberies, and last year that already anemic number plunged even lower to 20%. Out of 8,973 reported incidents, arrests were made in only 1,807. That 20% clearance rate is higher than the 13% clearance rate for burglaries and an almost unbelievable 4% clearance rate for motor vehicle theft, but it still means that the vast majority of the time armed robbers are getting away with their crime and their victim’s belongings.

The state of Illinois and the city of Chicago don’t make it easy for residents to lawfully exercise their right to keep and bear arms in self-defense, but we have seen some recent incidents where armed citizens have stopped their attackers and saved themselves from harm. It might be time for that TV station to help their employees get the training they need for a CCW so that the next time they’re targeted by a robbery crew they have both the motivation and the means to defend themselves.

 

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