Roseland community stores are suffering a new blight of panhandlers who have turned into thieves,
drastically hurting the far South Side, say local business owners.
According to the crime statistics provided on ClearPath.com– the Chicago Police Department’s website providing statistics on crime in Chicago neighborhoods– there were 23 complaints of robberies within the last week and 97 in the last month. Of those, 37 were felony theft.
Special Service Area officers work with the police to keep the South Side neighborhoods safe. The officers were requested in 2009 to patrol the community for wary business owners.
Dorian Johnson, Special Service Area manager of the 46th district, explained in a phone
interview that the service area patrol often collects complaints and have been
called by “everyone” to handle issues such as theft and petty crimes.
Often times officials will come later and the Special Service Area officers are able to relay information to police.
“Shoplifting is killing the businesses in this area,” Johnson said. “The shrinkage
that we’ve had is unbelievable.”
He said that businesses have struggled to survive the epedemic. The theft often stems from issues such as drug abuse, and business owners often complain about
“We have several amenities, and we want to continue to keep the pennies
inside the the community,” Johnson said. “We want the Halsted
community to be just as clean as the neighborhoods on the North Side. Lets make it secure and cleaner so customers want to shop here and other businesses want to come here.”
Some business owners have seen no change since patrol officials began monitoring the area and claim they face the same challenges with theft as they did before.
“We haven’t seen a Special Service Area agent since we’ve been here,” said Clarence
Glover, front end manager at Buy-N-Save, a grocery store located on the 10300 block of Prairie Avenue.
The main issue is addicts stealing and reselling merchandise to feed their drug habits, he said.
Jquinn McKinley, manager at Family Dollar said he’s seen people of
all ages stealing.
“People steal anything from underwear to cosmetics. Kids steal petty
things like candy, older people steal things they can resell,” he
“They come in and steal anything they can triple their money on,
mostly laundry detergent and meat– it’s an easy profit,” said Glover.
“I mean if you’re not working you have to do what you have to do to
get your fix.”
Anis Mohammed owner of Southside Grocery Inc. said most often
younger offenders attempt to shoplift in his store, and he blames the
community, schools and parents of the community.
“You wouldn’t believe how many people are shoplifting,” he said. “I’ve seen
little babies, like four or five years old, adults, old people. They think it’s a game. They think it’s a good thing to steal. They come out and say to their friends ‘Hey look what I got.’”
Mohammed said he blames the community for the prominence in theft. He
said kids have attempted to buy tobacco products and when carded, they
become angry and often cause damage to the store.
“The first thing is the family– they should be teaching kids how to behave,” said Mohammed. “Next is the community and the teachers.
Everybody has to help out.”
Other businesses in the area escape petty theft because their
merchandise is harder to steal.
Troy Martin Assistant manager at Jiffy Lube said the store keeps its
doors wide open but hasn’t fallen prey to any shoplifters.
“I cant see any problems, except maybe more customers,” said Martin.