WICKER PARK — If the Bears are looking for some tackling help, they might want to consider a group of Wicker Park guys who took down a shoplifter by knocking him against a car, chasing him across the street and pinning him.
The 18-year-old man allegedly tried to rip off a pair of fancy messenger bags from Chrome Industries at 1529 N. Milwaukee Ave at 2 p.m. Monday, according to police and witnesses.
But he ran into Joe Klinger on the way out the door.
The Chrome Industries employee was walking into the store after running an errand when he noticed the man walking out with two bags under his arm, with hangars attached to the bags.
The guy was "walking very fast," Klinger said.
"I immediately said 'Hey' to him, and he sprinted across the street. I followed. I yelled out and some guys chucked him against a car — that slowed him down a bit — and then he ran back across the street, and I caught up to him and tackled him in front of Doc Martens [store]," Klinger said.
During the chase, the man dropped one of the bags and the other bag was snatched out of his hands by one of Klinger's coworkers, who also helped to hold the man down.
"Most stores tell you, if you see someone shoplifting and they run out, to let it go, but I was right there at the entrance. I just acted," Klinger said.
Shortly after the arrest, Klinger described his state of mind as "a mixed bag of emotions."
"I feel good he was caught because he was doing something wrong, but on the human level I don't know where this guy comes from, what his story is," he said.
Klinger said that the man was "being rather indignant about the whole thing" and was swearing at him and angry, insisting he did nothing wrong.
"His emotions were probably high, too," Klinger said.
Witnesses gave Klinger and his coworker "a couple nods ands high-fives on the way back" to the store, where Klinger made a signed complaint against the shoplifter to Shakespeare District cops.
According to Klinger, one of the recovered messenger bags, a Chicago Black Ops citizen bag, costs $180; the second bag was $80, bringing the before tax total to $260.
Thefts under $300 are considered a class A misdemeanor, but over $300 is a felony.
Officer Thomas Sweeney, a Chicago Police spokesman, said charges against the man are pending.
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