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IRMA chief goes off on Lightfoot over crime

Thursday, Dec 9, 2021 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Rob Karr, like his predecessor, is about the chillest person in this business. He’s got the skills and demeanor of a seasoned diplomat. So, seeing these quotes was a surprise and should be a wake-up call for everyone. Here’s Fran Spielman

Mayor Lori Lightfoot was accused Thursday of abdicating responsibility for the retail crime wave sweeping Chicago and, instead, pressuring merchants to implement their own costly and unworkable security measures.

Twice in the last month — and as recently as this week — Lightfoot urged Magnificent Mile merchants victimized repeatedly by smash-and-grab robberies to follow the lead of their counterparts in Milan, London, Paris, Rome and along Hollywood’s Rodeo Drive.

She specifically mentioned security guards at the door, entrance cameras, merchandise “either chained and roped or put behind glass” and customers being “buzzed into” stores.

On Thursday, Illinois Retail Merchants Association President Rob Karr flatly rejected all of the mayor’s ideas.

He branded the suggestions “extraordinarily disheartening,” “misinformed” and “false”—yet another example of how Lightfoot “continues to point fingers and play the blame game.”

…Adding… Ken Griffin has been complaining loudly about the city’s crime

The head of President Joe Biden’s security detail is retiring and taking a job with Citadel, billionaire Ken Griffin’s hedge fund.

David Cho has been with the United States Secret Service for more than 25 years and is the first Korean American to become special agent in charge of the service’s Presidential Protective Division. He’ll start at $43 billion Citadel on Jan. 3 as deputy head of security, according to a spokesman for the firm.

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51 Comments
  1. - Wow - Thursday, Dec 9, 21 @ 1:48 pm:

    Well done Rob


  2. - Lucky Pierre - Thursday, Dec 9, 21 @ 1:56 pm:

    No surprise the vacancy rate is 26% on Michigan Avenue.

    Largely because of the failed criminal justice policies in Chicago

    Dozens of police vehicles with flashing lights and officers inside instead of walking the beat is another in a litany of failed strategies

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/abc7chicago.com/amp/chicago-shopping-michigan-avenue-stores-closed/11143319/


  3. - walker - Thursday, Dec 9, 21 @ 1:56 pm:

    Actually I read Rob’s words as measured and pointed — like any good diplomat’s.

    One thing retailers don’t need is advice from the Mayor on how to run their businesses.


  4. - Roadrager - Thursday, Dec 9, 21 @ 1:57 pm:

    I think Karr has a point about Lightfoot constantly pointing fingers, and his members’ concerns about organized retail crime are valid. But I also don’t think it’s a city’s responsibility to have its police force run loss prevention for merchants. It’s lousy when a Wal-Mart or a Dollar General does it; why should it be acceptable for Neiman-Marcus?


  5. - Dotnonymous - Thursday, Dec 9, 21 @ 1:59 pm:

    “She specifically mentioned security guards at the door, entrance cameras, merchandise “either chained and roped or put behind glass” and customers being “buzzed into” stores.”

    Controlled movement is our future?…just like inside our prisons…Guards, Cameras and Chains…OH NO.


  6. - Dotnonymous - Thursday, Dec 9, 21 @ 2:02 pm:

    The Police don’t work for Walmart, Dollar General or Neiman-Marcus…or do they?


  7. - SWIL_Voter - Thursday, Dec 9, 21 @ 2:04 pm:

    Don’t agree with lightfoot on just about anything, but why on earth should taxpayers subsidize enormously profitable corporations who do everything in their power to avoid paying their fair share for these costs?


  8. - lake county democrat - Thursday, Dec 9, 21 @ 2:10 pm:

    Well, ok, but even security cameras? Reminds me of Spiderman/Peter Parker who couldn’t be troubled to stop the thief who would later murder his Uncle Ben.


  9. - Obvious - Thursday, Dec 9, 21 @ 2:12 pm:

    ^^

    Corporations pay taxes too. It’s 2021 and we should not have bands of looters roaming throughout downtown stealing things.


  10. - Ducky LaMoore - Thursday, Dec 9, 21 @ 2:12 pm:

    “But I also don’t think it’s a city’s responsibility to have its police force run loss prevention for merchants.”

    I agree. Having worked in retail in the best of times, the police aren’t really a whole lot of help for petty theft. When we would identify a known shoplifter, we would basically just follow them around every time they came into the store (which was usually only one time after our overly-polite service). We would print out pics from our security cameras and kept a working folder of shoplifters. You have to be vigilant and run those people off. Because no one else will. Police are busy enough without petty theft intervention.


  11. - Lucky Pierre - Thursday, Dec 9, 21 @ 2:12 pm:

    Maybe because the sales tax revenue from retail sales, restaurants and hotels is what funds much of city government?

    Odd take that public safety is now taxpayer subsidization of private business?

    Where do you propose we make up the difference in tax revenue if wealthy tourists decide The Mag Mile isn’t safe?


  12. - Boone's is Back - Thursday, Dec 9, 21 @ 2:17 pm:

    I ran into a couple freezing outside without coats and frantic near downtown at 6pm this last tuesday. They said that they were carjacked by two people with ski masks and assault rifles. 6pm on a Tuesday near the Loop.

    But hey, Lightfoot says that all crimes other than murder are down. Way to go Lori.


  13. - Lucky Pierre - Thursday, Dec 9, 21 @ 2:17 pm:

    So the coordinated smash and grab armed robberies where stores are cleared out on Michigan avenue are petty theft?

    The city depends on the sales tax revenue from wealthy tourists who stay in hotels, eat in restaurants and shop the Mag Mile to fund city government.

    Effective public safety is not a handout to business large or small, it is a core responsibility of local government


  14. - VerySmallRocks - Thursday, Dec 9, 21 @ 2:18 pm:

    Vacancy rates were climbing on Michigan Ave for years before COVID and smash and grabs. If business likes the street mall concept so much, they need to make the investment in mall cop security with police as a backup. They also need to get over that security means watching everyone, not just the usual suspects.


  15. - Demoralized - Thursday, Dec 9, 21 @ 2:20 pm:

    ==Largely because of the failed criminal justice policies in Chicago==

    Do you have some sort of factual basis to back that up or is this just your usual pull stuff out of your behind nonsense. I suspect the latter.


  16. - Downstate - Thursday, Dec 9, 21 @ 2:20 pm:

    “The Police don’t work for Walmart, Dollar General or Neiman-Marcus…or do they?”

    No, but they work for taxpayers who expect a certain level of safety.

    This is how “food deserts” are created.

    Just as an example, do a google map view of East St. Louis and do a search for “grocery”, “food”, or “dollar General”. Alarming and sad.


  17. - AD - Thursday, Dec 9, 21 @ 2:20 pm:

    === why on earth should taxpayers subsidize enormously profitable corporations who do everything in their power to avoid paying their fair share for these costs?===

    26% vacancy on Mag Mile and with the way things are going, that number will continue to grow. Bears are going to leave town in 5 years also. My two biggest reasons for visiting the city are going to be gone and I’m not the only one. The remaining small businesses and restaurants that can’t move will be hurting, not these companies that will just move or go online completely.

    You may not like it, but these companies provide a lot of jobs and property/sales tax revenue, so keep pushing them out if it makes you feel better, but eventually you’ll reap what you sow.


  18. - low level - Thursday, Dec 9, 21 @ 2:24 pm:

    == Where do you propose we make up the difference in tax revenue if wealthy tourists decide The Mag Mile isn’t safe?==

    For maybe the first time ever, I agree w LP


  19. - unclesam - Thursday, Dec 9, 21 @ 2:30 pm:

    I’m going to have to agree with Karr on this particular issue. Most stores already have/had security measures in place to prevent retail theft, but always balanced to ensure shoppers (especially along the Mag Mile) had and enjoyable experience so they would come back.

    The recent theft and vandalism are more than just typical “shoplifting” and the Mayor is telling business owners “you’re on your own; we are not helping anymore” and the State’s Attorney is not holding many offenders accountable.

    Without the support of your local government and legal system - why on earth would a business owner invest to fix the store and stay at that location. Especially since it is very easy to relocate.


  20. - Downstate - Thursday, Dec 9, 21 @ 2:33 pm:

    “why on earth would a business owner invest”

    And who would want their spouse or child to work in such an environment?


  21. - Jibba - Thursday, Dec 9, 21 @ 2:33 pm:

    Petty shoplifting in stores is different than mobs of smash and grabbers or carjackers. Store security can take care of the former, but police are needed for the latter. Although given the nationwide extent of the problem, I don’t think police and cities have found good solutions yet.


  22. - Nagidam - Thursday, Dec 9, 21 @ 2:34 pm:

    Were is Kyle when we need him?

    Obviously said in jest. Folks don’t want to “subsidize corporations” for their security. OK, they will either move out of Chicago, or they will hire private security that will probably man handle the criminals. I think we just went through this discussion to a degree a few weeks ago.

    Citizens and corporations should expect basic security. Mag Mile is not getting it.


  23. - AD - Thursday, Dec 9, 21 @ 2:38 pm:

    === “why on earth would a business owner invest”

    And who would want their spouse or child to work in such an environment?===

    Ding Ding Ding. Maybe it’s sensationalized in the news, but my family and I aren’t going to take the chance when I can just go somewhere else.


  24. - Boston Bruin - Thursday, Dec 9, 21 @ 2:43 pm:

    Those Dems really know how to address crime. First they let them out as soon as the police can arrest them. Now they blame the victims of the crime as well. Great messaging


  25. - Ron - In Texas - Thursday, Dec 9, 21 @ 2:44 pm:

    === why on earth should taxpayers subsidize enormously profitable corporations who do everything in their power to avoid paying their fair share for these costs?===

    or the focus on “loss prevention” as if this is mild shop lifting.

    This isnt that. this is large groups. stealing 10’s of thousands of dollars worth of merchandise at a time. Not to mention damage to the facilities and its cost AND damage to the reputation driving normal folks away from these locations.

    We often speak of the social contract around here. And part of that contract is that the local gov needs to provide safe operating environments for business to take place. If they cannot, then businesses will leave, thus lowering revenue even more.

    commerce in the downtown area requires a level of security, safety for the patrons and workers and even cleanliness. If you can’t supply that as a City Government, then exactly what are you doing? because it sure isnt awesome roads or education.


  26. - charles in charge - Thursday, Dec 9, 21 @ 2:45 pm:

    His “skills and demeanor” have kept Illinois’ shoplifting penalties the second-most punitive in the entire country, even as liberal bastions like Oklahoma have increased their felony thresholds to keep up with the cost of goods. There’s something to be said for effectiveness, but I don’t happen to think that particular accomplishment is anything to be proud of.


  27. - thisjustinagain - Thursday, Dec 9, 21 @ 2:49 pm:

    When you have mobs storming stores, smashing display cases and window displays to pillage the store, do you really think unarmed response like physical security measures will stop them? At that point it’s mob action and a forcible felony of burglary under Illinois law, and use of force to protect the store and employees is legally and morally justified. But Lightfoot refuses to admit her failed Democratic policies are fueling the violent crime wave in the city, and blaming store owners for not taking the “simple” measures is simply ridiculous. These aren’t simply shoplifters, Lori.


  28. - Crash - Thursday, Dec 9, 21 @ 2:54 pm:

    I strongly agree with Karr both on the role of the stores and on the Mayor’s response.

    I lived, went to school, or worked in the city since about 1984.I was there in the late 1980s and early 1990s when there were some genuinely dangerous areas (you really wanted to avoid the area of the old Greyhound station and the Loop emptied after dark).

    During a lot of those times, you had to be alert. However, even then there some feeling that on a crowded street and during daylight you were safe. After dark? That was different of course.

    This is the first time since I’ve been living or working here that walking through the Loop during the day I need to be careful. Crowded streets are no defense. People are getting out of cars and targeting people during the day. It takes more than being alert. Safety now in the Loop and River North is more based on luck than anything.

    Most of that time, I lived in Streeterville. Again, I felt safe. One time that we had reason for concern is a night we walked to Best Buy at Hancock because my wife or I needed a new laptop. We brought our German Shepherd with us for the walk and with him felt completely safe.

    It is different now though. During the day, at night, whenever — the places are being targeted and often by large groups.

    It is a problem for the city and it has gotten far worse over the recent years. The mayor can’t just blame merchants. She has to take real action.


  29. - Responsa - Thursday, Dec 9, 21 @ 3:02 pm:

    I’m pretty sure neither the tourists who have cancelled their trips to Chicago, nor locals who see boarded up windows and are increasingly afraid that they will be caught in the proverbial “wrong place at the wrong time”, are not blaming the merchants for this mayhem, Lori.


  30. - Downstate - Thursday, Dec 9, 21 @ 3:11 pm:

    “do you really think unarmed response like physical security measures will stop them?”

    Great point. It hasn’t so far. And store policies are such that employee response to theft or shoplifting are terribly constraining. It’s easier to just close up.


  31. - dr. reason a. goodwin - Thursday, Dec 9, 21 @ 3:12 pm:

    If Chicago does not successfully address these issues in the tourism corridor, conventions will start leaving for Orlando or Las Vegas. Leisure travel will dry up. We’re talking BILLIONS of dollars of impact. I am aware that crime is a problem in the neighborhoods, too. But without the tourism corridor revenue there won’t be money to fight crime anywhere.


  32. - Downstate - Thursday, Dec 9, 21 @ 3:15 pm:

    Lori’s suggestions for store owners…”merchandise “either chained and roped or put behind glass” and customers being “buzzed in…”

    Sounds like a prison commissary at Attica. I’m certain customers will love the new merchandizing approach. /s/


  33. - TradedUpForMitch - Thursday, Dec 9, 21 @ 3:21 pm:

    Griffin with the billy-aire version of getting a Mercedes-Benz G-class when a Jeep will do. Power move. And Deputy Head? Who is the top guy? Kratos?


  34. - ChrisB - Thursday, Dec 9, 21 @ 3:39 pm:

    Did Lori ask what the stores were wearing and why they were out so late at night, too?


  35. - This thread is conflating... - Thursday, Dec 9, 21 @ 3:52 pm:

    There are a number of related but different issues being conflated here improperly. Downtown / Mag Mile are seeing issues of violent property crime - eg muggings, stores are also seeing increased shoplifting from organized large groups of people, and then there was violence and theft related to summer 2020 protests. These issues all have different solutions and indeed some aren’t occurring anymore (summer 2020 has not repeated itself since), Let’s break down all the issues and figure out solutions to address each one; a one size fits all approach will not work.


  36. - Anonymous - Thursday, Dec 9, 21 @ 4:12 pm:

    Well done Rob. I can’t wait to see the Mayor being “buzzed” into a store.


  37. - City Zen - Thursday, Dec 9, 21 @ 4:13 pm:

    ==why on earth should taxpayers subsidize enormously profitable corporations who do everything in their power to avoid paying their fair share for these costs?==

    If these “enormously profitable corporations” are paying rent, and they are, then that rent goes towards paying the property taxes that fund the police. If you think the property taxes are too low downtown, take it up w/ Kaegi.


  38. - northsider (the original) - Thursday, Dec 9, 21 @ 4:13 pm:

    The roving mobs are a PUBLIC safety issue. I have lived on the near north side since the 1970’s and have never witnessed danger, fear and chaos like the past 2 years. In the past, I would have been careful not to have my purse snatched. Now I think twice about where I go in broad daylight because I could get hurt or worse.
    Sloughing this off onto the merchants is outright abdication of duty, and dangerous for other reasons. The Mayor is basically telling the Greater North Michigan Avenue Association to feel free to form its own militia or Blackwater. This is the City’s responsibility, not Nordstroms.


  39. - Dance Band on the Titanic - Thursday, Dec 9, 21 @ 4:18 pm:

    These smash and grab episodes are not just a bunch of rowdy kids who suddenly get the random idea to hit Neiman Marcus. The locations hit and merchandise stolen are specifically targeted. Seriously, where in the world is the typical kid going to get top dollar for carloads of stolen high-end merch?

    The reality is they are pawns in an organized crime ring. In the old days, trailers full of high end goods “disappeared”. Now, they hit the front end of the retail chain instead of the back lot.

    Like with any organized crime network, the only way to stop it is to find and arrest the people at the top. That requires a similar level of organization. Don’t hear any of that in the current back and forth by Lightfoot or Karr.


  40. - Amalia - Thursday, Dec 9, 21 @ 4:24 pm:

    so this is not just a problem for Chicago. and it’s not just something that retail merchants need to address, although if I had a high end purse trade I would figure out how to track those lost bags. the mass theft across the country is scary, a problem for the retail and insurance industry, and it has a psychological cost as well as an actual cost. Mayors should get together, compare notes, and act. and do it quickly. note to those wokelings from last summer who spouted “insurance can pay for it,” there is no such thing as a free lunch.


  41. - Been There - Thursday, Dec 9, 21 @ 5:21 pm:

    ==== Well done Rob. I can’t wait to see the Mayor being “buzzed” into a store.====
    She better have her spouse be the one buzzing them in. Historically most of the establishments using the buzzers wouldn’t let people of her color in.


  42. - Sling - Thursday, Dec 9, 21 @ 5:32 pm:

    Chicago police along with Organized Retail Crime Task Force found a storage locker filled with loot and no attaboy from Rob Karr?


  43. - Da big bad wolf - Thursday, Dec 9, 21 @ 5:38 pm:

    “Like with any organized crime network, the only way to stop it is to find and arrest the people at the top. That requires a similar level of organization. “
    Agree. These are organized crime rings and the goods most likely are being sold overseas. This is bigger than can be handled at the local level.


  44. - Almost the Weekend - Thursday, Dec 9, 21 @ 7:37 pm:

    Kim Foxx for Mayor


  45. - Shytown - Thursday, Dec 9, 21 @ 8:50 pm:

    Rob Karr has far more credibility than Lightfoot under any scenario.


  46. - Occasionally Moderated - Thursday, Dec 9, 21 @ 9:42 pm:

    Would anyone be interested in knowing that IDOC houses more offenders sentenced for Retail Theft than cannabis offenses?

    Interesting trivia, not making any statements here.


  47. - AD - Friday, Dec 10, 21 @ 7:27 am:

    As it should be. I don’t partake in Cannabis, but with it being legalized, I’m not sure anyone should be in prison for Cannabis related offenses. Maybe dealing it to kids, but that’s about it.


  48. - Occasionally Moderated - Friday, Dec 10, 21 @ 7:48 am:

    The info from cannabis offenses was true long before legalization.

    The amount of cannabis that it takes to land you in prison is more than anyone can now possess legally. Measured in (many) pounds not grams. Probably only talking people caught with more than 5,000 grams which is about 11 pounds.

    Probably has to remain that way in order for state to continue to collect the tax.


  49. - Downstate - Friday, Dec 10, 21 @ 8:09 am:

    Telling merchants and property owners to get their own “protection” is what, in part, led to the rise of the mafia in the early days of NYC.


  50. - Occasionally Moderated - Friday, Dec 10, 21 @ 11:02 am:

    Prevention of vigilantism is certainly a worthy reason to incarcerate violent offenders.

    -For AD- 2018 idoc list of percentage of population by offense.

    https://www2.illinois.gov/idoc/reportsandstatistics/Documents/CY18%20Male%20Offender%20Population%20Data.pdf#search=population%20by%20offense


  51. - charles in charge - Friday, Dec 10, 21 @ 11:35 am:

    ==Prevention of vigilantism is certainly a worthy reason to incarcerate violent offenders.==

    Got any evidence that incarceration prevents vigilantism?


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