WICKER PARK — The owner of a Division Street bar got an unpleasant but slightly comical surprise when an apparent burglar managed to remove a lock on the bar's front door — but couldn't get in because he was pulling the unlocked door instead of pushing it.
Surveillance video from the bar shows a man twisting and prying a lock at The Shambles and dislodging a safety guard doorstop after seven minutes of work early Friday. Nonetheless, he failed to get in after aggressively pulling the door repeatedly. A sticker on the outside of the door reads "PUSH."
"It's much funnier on the video, but the still shots show him pulling on the door. He could have pushed it," said Joe Lin, owner of The Shambles at 2050 W. Division St. in Wicker Park.
Between 6:43 a.m. and 6:47 a.m. Friday, a large man is captured on video using a wire clip or a tool to pry the lock out of the door of the bar.
The "winter vestibule," or temporary cover installed in front of the bar, provided cover for the man, who could not be seen by people walking by, Lin said.
"The gall of him breaking in in broad daylight. It's light out, people are jogging by. I want to let other businesses know," Lin said on Monday.
"He never made it in. It's kind of scary. He ruined the door," said Lin, adding that the man had a reflective stripe on his jacket and seemed like "a big guy."
Based on the video stills, the man appears to be wearing a baseball cap that is poking out from under his hood.
In addition to The Shambles, a neighboring bar, SmallBar at 2049 W. Division St. also had damage to its door between 2 and 6 a.m. on the same Friday.
"The locksmith said they use vice grips to spin the cylinder, and it disengages the lock mechanism somehow. You could see tooth marks and damage to the cylinder from the squeeze and attempted twist," said Phil McFarland, owner of SmallBar.
"Don't know why they couldn't get the lock off. Lucky?" McFarland said.
In addition to damaging the lock, the would-be burglar tried to break SmallBar's window, but, due to the glass being laminate, it only "spidered," McFarland said.
"My impression is they want to be in real fast, don't want to linger trying to open a door. If it doesn't pop quick, then they move on to easier prey," he said.
McFarland said the would-be burglar also took advantage of the covered vestibule area in front of his bar.
"It provided good cover for the guy to do his work out of sight," McFarland said.
Officer Jose Estrada, a Chicago Police Department spokesman, said that the two incidents on Friday are "being reviewed, as they fit the similar characteristics as other burglary crimes in the same vicinity."
In December, a thief was able to break into three Wicker Park cafes and steal hundreds of dollars after removing door locks in a similar fashion as Friday's attempted break-ins on Division Street.
"The detectives are aware of a rash of burglaries going around in the area," Estrada said.
Anyone with information is encouraged to call Area North Detectives at 312-744-8263.