ROGERS PARK — Laura Soncrant isn't usually at her Sheridan Road eatery The Growling Rabbit on Monday mornings, so the phone calls trickling in from patrons to "get there soon" were alarming.
"I thought the building was on fire," she said.
Rather, a brick had been thrown through one of the restaurant's many tall glass windows; the register had been taken, too.
She wasn't the only one on the block to have been hit, either.
Unan Imports, an African art gallery and gift shop just a few storefronts away at 6971 N. Sheridan Road, had been hit, too, Soncrant said. Soncrant said the owner told her it was the second time he'd been burglarized in recent years. He could not be reached for comment.
The burglar skipped a hair salon between the two businesses, she said.
A Chicago Police spokesman said officers responded to two separate burglaries in the 6900 block of North Sheridan Road on Oct. 12 they believed occurred between 5:10-5:20 a.m.
Police said responding officers discovered a broken front window and cash register displaced in one of the stores, and a broken front door glass pane at the second business.
According to initial reports, police said there was "no indication of taken property" from the second business.
No suspect description was available, police said.
It's not the first incident of the kind in the neighborhood, with most recently the Rogers Park Chamber of Commerce similarly having a brick its window on Sept. 29 around 7:45 a.m.. In that case, nothing was taken.
Prior to that, police had alerted businesses in the area to a rash of similar crimes occurring in the Rogers Park and Edgewater area.
Soncrant says she still has the brick that came barreling through her window, and that the brick used for Unan Imports had been taken from a landscape next door.
When they noticed the unusual look of the flat and wide limestone brick, they immediately walked to the residential building next door and saw a single stone missing from a walk-up facade.
A brick matching the look of the ones seen here is missing from the landscape, and also matches the brick found inside Unan Imports, Laura Soncrant said. [DNAinfo/Linze Rice]
In order to access the brick, someone would have needed to come from inside the building, get past the locked gate at the sidewalk or jump the tall, pointed fence.
Both businesses had their windows replaced by Monday afternoon.
Luckily for Soncrant, the register taken by the burglars — Soncrant says police were alerted to the crime by a good Samaritan who'd seen two men commit the act — was empty and had been discarded on a sidewalk nearby.
Soncrant said police had taken the register "for processing."
The art gallery was less lucky. The register, with money, had been taken, she said.
Unan's register sat hidden behind the front counter, out of view to anyone standing on the sidewalk or inside the front of the store. To even enter the shop, its owner must buzz a customer in and buzz them back out, she said.
Neither store had security cameras, but Soncrant said police told her the witness said it took place around 5:15 a.m. Monday at her 6981 N. Sheridan Road store.
Dust from evidence technicians looking for fingerprints could still be seen on the front door of Unan Imports Tuesday afternoon. [DNAinfo/Linze Rice]
She said the owner of Unan Imports told her he used to have a security alarm system, but because of the building's old age and tendency to easily rattle with wind, the alarm would frequently go off and cause disturbances to business.
Now, she said she's heeding officers' advice and getting at least one or two cameras installed.
"I just never put one in, I don't know, I just like to think of the better side of people," she said.
Soncrant says she's received an outpouring of support from the community and her customers, and she said she hopes the neighborhood will support Unan Imports as well.
The Chicago Police officers who responded to the burglary at Soncrant's restaurants also went the extra mile for her, she said.
For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here: