Downtown, South Loop & River North

Crime & Mayhem

Robbers Targeting Drivers Stopped At Lower Wacker Stoplights

June 16, 2017 12:20pm | Updated June 19, 2017 8:47am
There have been two robberies and an attempted robbery on Lower Wacker Drive this week.
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DNAinfo/Kelly Bauer

DOWNTOWN — Lower Wacker Drive has seen at least two robberies this week — and an attempted one in which a driver fired his gun at the would-be thief.

The thieves — sometimes one man, sometimes two — have been reaching into open car windows or opening car doors to snatch phones from victims stopped at red lights, police said. All of the robberies have happened around 2 p.m.

"I was in a place where I didn't feel unsafe," said Amanda Brady of Pilsen, whose phone was stolen from her car by two men at Lower Wacker and Michigan. "My thought is, I'm really lucky that it wasn't worse than it was."

About 2 p.m. Monday, Brady was driving to the beach when she got caught at a red light at Lower Wacker Drive and Lower Michigan Avenue. While waiting, she saw two men walking through traffic, one of them holding a handful of flyers.

One of the men came up to the driver's side door of Brady's car and opened the door, she said. Brady, thinking the man was trying to sell her something, said "no, no, no" while trying to close her door.

The man didn't say anything and kept holding the door open while Brady struggled to close it. While she was distracted, the second man opened the passenger-side door, reached in and took Brady's phone from her cup holder.

The men began to walk off when Brady noticed her phone had been taken. She parked her car, and the men ran away while she got out and called, "Help, I just got robbed!"

Brady called police and was approached by several people — including a friend who happened to have been in traffic behind her — who stood with her while she waited for help. Three people came by and said they had seen similar robberies in the area.

One woman told Brady she works nearby and sees the thieves "all the time," Brady said.

"They'll be back at 5," Brady said the woman told her.

Police searched the area, but no one was taken into custody.

Brady's car doors were supposed to lock automatically while she drove, she said, and it wasn't until after the robbery that she learned there was an issue with that mechanism.

Brady has deactivated her phone and said the robbers probably tossed it because her screen was cracked. She was not injured, though she said the robbery has made her "more cautious" of her surroundings.

She said she was concerned about the robberies "escalating," noting another victim had fired a gun during a similar robbery attempt Wednesday afternoon.

During that incident, a man was on Lower Wacker Drive near State Street when two people came up to the sides of his car and reached inside his window, police said.

The man, a concealed carry license holder "fearing for his safety," took out his gun and fired a shot, police said. No one was injured, and nothing was taken from the man.

A robbery similar to Brady's happened about 2 p.m. Sunday at Lower Wacker Drive and Lower Michigan Avenue, police said. A 41-year-old man was stopped at the light when a man walked up to the car, opened the passenger-side door, reached in and took the victim's cellphone.

That thief ran away, and no injuries were reported, police said.

Police said the thieves from the Monday robbery were described as two black men 18 to 20 years old, about 5-foot-8 or 5-foot-9 and weighing 170 to 180 pounds with short, black hair.

The robber Sunday was described as a 5-foot-4 black man with dreadlocks who wore a white tank top.