BUCKTOWN — A teenager who police believe was leading a group of youths that had been stealing from Bucktown and Wicker Park shops has been arrested, police said.
Shakespeare District CAPS Sgt. Adam Henkels said Wednesday that the teen who was arrested was part of a larger group of youths targeting the shops.
"Teen girls, as well as boys, were involved in the thefts," Henkels told residents at a community meeting in the Bucktown Wicker Park library, 1701 N. Milwaukee Ave. The news of the arrest was one of several updates shared at the meeting.
Henkels said he could not provide further information on the arrest because the offender is a juvenile.
On Thursday, a worker at Vintage Charm, a shop that was victimized by the alleged thief and two of his friends, expressed relief that the ringleader was caught.
"That helps that they caught him, but there's still three of them. It wasn't anything huge that he stole but the fact that [police] were able to catch him was good," the worker said.
During the meeting, Henkels also said that there has been a trend in sidewalk robberies where thieves surprise victims from behind, often while the victims are on their phones or not paying attention to what's going on around them.
"Be aware of other people when you are on the street, make casual eye contact with everyone who is around you. A lot of the time, an offender will pass a victim on the street who is not paying attention, and then come back up from behind," Henkels said.
He added, "Walk against traffic so you can see them coming."
Elsewhere in Bucktown/Logan's beat 1434 — bordered by Armitage Avenue on the north, North Avenue on the south, Wood Street on the east and Rockwell Street on the west — criminal damage to cars appears to be on the rise.
According to statistics covering Feb. 15 to April 19, there were 15 reports of criminal damage to cars in the beat, as compared to 6 at the same time last year.
After the meeting, Mark Karhoff, a Logan Square resident who is a member of a townhome association on the far western end of the Bucktown beat and about a block south of The 606's Bloomingdale Trail, said he feels like crime is on the rise.
"I've been here 15 years and in this last year we had more crime [affecting the townhomes] than the previous 14 years combined," Karhoff said.
Karhoff said that there were three break-ins to homes on his block in the past month.
Karhoff said he's worried about having fewer police than previous years.
"It's more about the police force understaffed. I don't see them patrolling like they used to do," Karhoff said.
A recent report by the city's Office of the Inspector General showed that the Shakespeare District has the lowest number of police officers of any district in the city.
"Why do we have 40 officers per mile and Lincoln Park has 78?" one frustrated resident asked aloud.