Monday, June 11, 2012

UChicago Crime Report: LOTS of UChicago and Downtown Robberies

This was an ugly weekend. Over 6 or 7 killed and 40 others wounded in shootings across the city (And by that, we mean in the South and West Side neighborhoods that always get featured in such stories). I'm not going to give any comment on CPD strategy until the beleaguered police superintendant Garry McCarthy makes his own statement early this week to try and do damage control. I am, however, going to talk about robberies. In some cases, it was the usual 1-3 guys with a gun. But downtown saw a different breed of robbery: Packs of 10-20 people descending on victims and beating them to the ground.

Magnificent Mile Robbery 1: Right behind the Museum of Contemporary Art
800 Block of DeWitt Avenue, near Chicago Avenue,0,3063104.story

Magnificent Mile Robbery 2: One block south of the Grand/Chicago Red Line stop
500 Block of North State Street,0,7863065.story

Loop Attack: Right at the State/Lake Red Line stop,0,7863065.story

In each case, a mob of at least 7 people and as many as 15-20 attacked single victims with fists and feet. None of the victims suffered life-threatening injuries, although the second Mag Mile victim has a broken jaw and is being treated at Northwestern Memorial downtown.

Then there was the UChicago stuff. Fewer people, less high profile, but even more worrisome for community members that remain here over the summer. And boy were there a lot of them on Sunday.

Incident Location Date/Time Occurred Comment
Aggravated Robbery Dorchester between 53rd & 54th 6/10/12 2:40 AM An unknown male, implying he had a weapon, took property from two women walking on the sidewalk
Aggravated Robbery 52nd between Woodlawn & Kimbark 6/10/12 3:55 AM An unknown male, implying he had a weapon, took property from four women on the sidewalk
Robbery 60th at Ellis 6/10/12 12:00 PM Two males forcibly took a man's back pack and ran off / Both suspects were immediately arrested by UCPD officers
Theft from Person Cottage Grove at 62nd 6/10/12 11:20 AM Male subject grabbed cell phone from the hand of a woman as she exited a CTA bus

I don't recall having to report so many incidents in one post since this blog's creation. That is a LOT of robberies! Yes, the UCPD chose to classify one as a Theft, but for all intents and purposes of local students, that one should also effectively be a robbery.

    I have been downtown, sometimes in the exact location of the attack, at the exact time that those attacks were said to occur. There are lots of people around to both witness and help. But they won't. Unless it would imperil me or the victim further, I certainly would help out. I train with people that would help out. But do not count on there being such concerned citizens nearby. Attackers and predators know that the average person will not respond to a show of force. They know that the average bystander will do just that: Stand by and watch without intervening. Do not get lulled into a sense of security just because you see people.
    Sound paranoid? Well, as my mother always told me, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure". Do not assume that downtown is safe. Do not put on your blinders, take out your phone, and leave your awareness and martial faculties on the South Side. Downtown attacks are alarmingly common during the summer, when groups of young men journey to the Loop from their South and West Side communities (the man charged in one robbery is from 59th and Indiana in Englewood) to have fun, make a buck, and cause havoc for the oblivious white people on the Mag Mile. If you expect that this can happen, ESPECIALLY on a weekend, then you will be that much safer.
  3. MORE ROBBERIES OCCUR NORTH OF 55th THAN DO TO THE SOUTHThere is an obnoxious misconception on campus that the houses south of the Midway are in a constant state of siege. This is not without logical underpinnings; Woodlawn is not a safe neighborhood, so the closer you are to it, the more danger you are in. In reality, the stats seem to show that Merry and Pippin had the right idea: The closer you are to danger, the farther you are from harm. In the past few months, and over the past years, the area between 56th and 52nd, bounded by Stony Island and Ellis, sees way more robberies than does the Midway/South Campus area.
    There are some reasons for that. For one, it is a lot easier for UCPD cars to patrol the borders of the school. The south campus is a border area, and we have cards zooming by every ten minutes. Incidentally, there aren't too many robberies down here (although there are some). The heart of Hyde Park with all of its student housing, however, is harder to patrol and a more lucrative target for robbers. It is poorly lit, has lots of dark parks and alleys, and has lots of extremely oblivious UChis walking around drunk and on their phones.
    You are not safe when you walk back from Kimbark Liquor to get to your awesome apartment party. You are not safe walking back from the #6 to your apartment. Summer is coming, robbers are out, and Hyde Park is a traditional hunting ground for them.
Advice time. How do you prevent these robberies? I am going to do a larger series of posts on summer safety tomorrow and  over the next days and weeks, but here are the tips that can keep you, your property, and your loved ones safe in the pending months.
    Can't emphasize this enough. If you see a group, big or small, of young men looking rowdy, get off of that side of the street. Turn around and flee if you have to. I know a thing or two about large groups of South Side boys, and that crew downtown probably looked like it was hunting for trouble. Who cares if you feel uncomfortable making a snap second profiling judgment? No one wants to generalize or stigmatize. But no one wants to get their jaw broken by a 10 man brawling pack. Use the evidence you have to make an informed decision about what will keep you safe.
  2. HIDE YOUR PHONE!Summer is here. Robbers are out. There is no longer any good reason, short of calling the police, that you should be walking around potentially dangerous areas with your phone out. You are actually just inviting attackers to come out and take your device. Heck, some people who are not even thinking of committing a robbery might just see the oblivious UChi standing there with a phone and realize they can make an easy hundred bucks. Keep it in your pocket. Don't text. If you must text, go inside a cafe or store. You are not cool or well-informed when you browse the web on your phone during this season. You are just a target. 
    In some attacks, the assailant makes a demand. You comply, they go away, no one gets hurt, and you just focus on getting a good witness description. But in those downtown incidents with multiple attackers, there is no demand. There is just a brawl. If you find yourself in that situation, you will have a fight on your hands. Rather, you will have a punch and get-the-hell-out-of-there situation where you must rapidly stun and disengage. Even so, you will need to defend yourself.
    All warriors should have selected their clothing kit; I wrote about this once before. It should be functional. It might make a statement about you. But it will never encumber you in a bad situation. If you know what your attire is, wear it all summer. If you don't, figure it out now and wear it all summer. Those hunting packs were not interested in just taking a wallet. They wanted to cause damage to a person. Your clothing must reflect your state of readiness.
    Wear shoes that you can run in.
    Wear pants or shorts that allow full leg mobility for sprinting and kicking.
    Bring a bag that keeps both hands free at all times.
    Don't wear anything too long or baggy that can get caught or grabbed during an attack. 
  4. FIGHT ONLY TO DISENGAGEYou don't need to arrest your attacker. The police can handle that. In fact, it's their job. YOUR job is to survive with a good description of your attackers so you can inform the cops when they arrive on scene. If a robber just makes a demand with a gun under his coat, just note his clothing, his face, any distinguishing marks, and then give up your loot. But if the attackers just want to hurt you, you need to survive.
    ALWAYS fight to disengage. Cause damage to stun and disorient, and then run. Choose your attacks wisely. Do not get in a grappling match. Whatever you do, stay on your feet. Punch an attacker in the neck. Give them a palm strike to the nose. Kick them in the groin or hard in the thigh. And then run. End all of your fights by running, and choose techniques that allow you to run. 
That is all for now friends. Stay aware. Stay safe. Know your city. Summer is coming. 

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