WICKER PARK — A Wicker Park man, snatched off the sidewalk and forced into a car where he was beaten and robbed by three attackers last month, says he wants to warn others about the harrowing four-hour experience that has left him partially blinded in one eye.
"I am known as street smart, tough, aware and well traveled, yet I was kidnapped in my neighborhood in a well-lit crowded location. Our city is slipping into the type of society that is the likes of Third World countries," said Dan Lipton, a 46-year-old real estate agent.
Lipton, who has lived in Wicker Park since 1997, says he was kidnapped at approximately 12:15 a.m. on Jan. 8 while he was standing in the 2100 block of West Division Street, a block packed with bars and restaurants.
"I was at Innjoy on a Saturday night and had just said goodbye to friends who got into an Uber. I was on the sidewalk smoking a cigarette and a guy came up to me and asked for a lighter. As I was searching in my pockets for my lighter, he put his arm around me, cradled the back of me and shoved me into the front seat of a car," Lipton said.
Officer Laura Amezaga, a Chicago Police spokeswoman, said the "armed robbery with other dangerous weapon" incident lasted from approximately 12:15 to 3:50 a.m. The weapon was a hammer, which was used only as a threat.
Lipton said he was restrained in the car and beaten in his face and hands (which he was using to try to cover his face with) while the man who shoved him into the car reached from behind to take Lipton's wallet and phone from his pockets. Lipton said he was then pummeled in the left side of his face as the driver held his arm down to further restrain him.
The man who pulled Lipton into the car was described as black, between 6-foot-2 and 6-foot-4, weighing up to 240 pounds and about 25 years old, Lipton said.
The car was an older model four-door maroon sedan, possibly a Mercury, Amezaga said.
Another black man, about 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds, also in his early 30s, was driving the car.
A white woman, estimated to be between 30 and 35, was in the backseat with the larger offender. Lipton said the woman's hair was "dirty blonde."
Lipton said the three attackers told him they were "on crack" and were passing around a little glass tube and smoking from it. They offered him some crack but he said no.
They demanded the PIN number to his ATM card, which he gave to them after first resisting. Then, they visited several unknown businesses and gas stations.
"We went from ATM to ATM. They took out as much cash as they could before Chase fraud protection cut off withdrawals," Lipton said.
At one point, they demanded the security code to unlock Lipton's cell phone, and once it was unlocked, sold Lipton's phone to someone at one of the gas stations.
Eventually, Lipton was let go from the car near the intersection of Harrison and Pulaski on a freezing morning.
Lipton said he flagged down a Cook County Sheriff's police car, but "they sat there and they called a Chicago Police officer" while Lipton stood outside the car in the cold.
When police responded, Lipton said they did not allow him to go to a precinct "to warm up and get a report written."
"They said I go home, or to the hospital. I knew I needed to go to an ophthalmologist and it was Sunday morning. They dumped me beaten up at my house and didn't even wait for me to get inside. No paperwork or anything was done," Lipton said from Florida, where he has been recuperating with limited sight in his left eye almost a month since the attack.
Amezaga said that according to the police report, "it appears [Lipton] refused medical attention and was taken home by officers and a report was not generated at that time [at 3:50 a.m]."
But later the same day, at 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 8, Amezaga said officers arrived at Lipton's home and generated a report.
Lipton confirmed a report was made later in the day after his phone was recovered.
"[Lipton] related person called victim's friend and stated he was in possession of victim's phone and wanted to sell back phone for what he paid for it ($100 USC). Deal was made and victim got his phone back," Amezaga said.
Lipton said his cousin and his cousin's girlfriend, who called 911, bought his phone back in a Jewel parking lot at Ashland and Division, and plainclothes police officers interviewed the phone seller. Lipton joined them and said the man whom he got his phone back from was not one of his two attackers.
After a recent conversation with the detective in the violent crimes unit, Lipton said he felt like there is nothing they can do to catch the perpetrators and since so much time had gone by, the chances of getting any surveillance videos has been greatly diminished.
"I feel like the detective just gets more cases piled on him. The detectives are in a spot where they are apologizing to people for not solving crimes. They are being set up to fail with too many cases and lack of resources," Lipton said. "Our city is broken and getting worse."
Amezaga said that the incident is an ongoing investigation.
Anyone with tips or who sees the maroon car and three suspects as described is encouraged to call Area North detectives at 312-744- 8216 and reference report JA 108482.