WEST ROGERS PARK — Three men, including a reputed gang member, were arrested last week for robbing cab drivers who parked along Western Avenue in the early morning, said Rogers Park Police Cmdr. Thomas Waldera.
Since the arrests, there hasn't been a single robbery in the area, he said.
Tony LeFlore, 20, of the 2000 block of West Arthur Street, was charged with robbery or armed robbery of five cab drivers between May 4 and June 10, the time of his arrest, according to prosecutors.
LeFlore threatened one cabbie with a gun, another with a knife and punched one of the drivers in the face, according to prosecutors and court records.
Waldera said a special team of officers was assigned to investigate the case, and after receiving a tip that the robberies could have been committed by LeFlore, he was recognized by officers and arrested before being identified in a photo lineup by victims.
"Robbery is what he does," Waldera said of LeFlore.
The commander said two other men of roughly the same age were arrested in connection with the crimes.
Waldera said the cabbies were targeted after they parked on Western Avenue, a busy street, at the end of their shifts — sometimes as late as 5 a.m.
"You know [the cab drivers] got cash," he said.
Waldera also said other robberies in the area might have been committed by LeFlores and the other suspects.
During a meeting Monday between business owners and police on Devon Avenue, a man said his son was robbed of his smart phone by two men recently.
"Two guys stopped him and they said, 'Give me your phone,'" said Mohammed Mukhi, who owns three businesses on Devon Avenue.
Waldera said there was also a string of burglaries in the two blocks north and south of Devon Avenue in Rogers Park. But since he ordered more patrols of the area and his officers distributed fliers to residents about how to keep their homes and apartments secure, there hasn't been a single burglary.
Waldera believed the burglars had used Devon Avenue as "cover" while approaching homes.
"They can blend in on the business strip," he said.
Last week, a Cook County judge set bail at $350,000 for LeFlore.
Waldera did not have the names of the two other men, and information about any charges filed against them was not available.
Reporter Erin Meyer contributed to this report.