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Chicago mother beside herself after 12-year-old son is robbed; alderman demands action

Chicago mother says armed robbers targeted her 12-year-old son on his bike
Chicago mother says armed robbers targeted her 12-year-old son on his bike 03:07

CHICAGO (CBS) -- For months, we have been talking about sprees of robberies around Chicago – sometimes violent, and often armed, attackers have hit neighborhoods across the city.

This past summer in Ukrainian Village, a 12-year-old boy and his friend were robbed – targeted by a group wielding a gun. His mother spoke Wednesday night to CBS 2's Marybel González about fears for her family's safety.

It is an incident that has left the family – lifelong Chicagoans – shaken, and wondering if they should move out of the city.

We also spoke to the area's alderman, who said this type of crime is happening too often.

"I've lived in Chicago my whole life, and I'm scared. For the first time, I'm really scared," the mother said.

Indeed, she is so scared that she is considering leaving Chicago.

"We are nervous to be here," she said. "I'm sick - just absolutely sick with worry and concern."

The Ukrainian Village mother did not want to be identified, but she did want to share what happened to her 12-year-old son on Sunday, July 30, when he was out riding his bike with a friend. It happened at 6:30 p.m. that evening along Walton Street and Western Avenue.

"They got stopped by five kids who were ranging from 10 to about 17," she said, "They were happily talking to them, and all of a sudden, they said, 'Give me your bike!' and they showed them a gun, and they said, 'We have guns, and we have knives, and give us your bikes and your phones.'"

Her son took off running and so did the thieves.

"My son is OK," the mother said. "I'm not."

The incident is one of many reported out of the 36th Ward, which stretches along Grand Avenue from Ukrainian Village and West Town northwest to Belmont Cragin.

According to city data, robberies are up nearly 155 percent in the ward – from 42 to 107 compared with this time last year.

"It is occurring at all hours of the day, and it's happening on main streets," said Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36th).

Villegas said robberies are happening all over his ward -like in many other parts of the city.

"It's just very brazen. People come out with rifles and guns," he said. "It's a quick robbery - less than two minutes - and then they're right back in the vehicle and onto the next target.

One of his solutions to tackle the problem is to turn the former Wood (13th) District police station into a police satellite office.

The Wood (13th) District used to span the section of the present-day Near West District north of Madison Street, while the old 12th District – formerly called the Monroe District – was only south of Madison Street. Mayor Rahm Emanuel closed the Wood District station a decade ago and consolidated the two districts.

The old Wood District station, 937 N. Wood St., is now used as the Cook County Sheriff's Office Central Warrant Unit Headquarters. The current Near West District station is located at 1412 S. Blue Island Ave. – miles from Ukrainian Village.

"You have a police station that is about 30 minutes away," Villegas said. "We have police officers get caught in traffic."

For the worried mother, it is going to take more.

"We need to explore something different," she said. "We need to - I don't know if that's federal money. I don't know what it means."

The idea of reopening the 13th District police station is not new. It came up at a community meeting in August.

Villegas said it would take a lot of budget help to make the reopening of the station happen. He is calling for more technology such as camera readers in the meantime.

Meanwhile, our data journalist at CBS Chicago have been tracking this trend of robberies. They found as of the end of September, there have been 7,318 robberies citywide in Chicago as of the end of September – the most since 2017.

But the numbers are down significantly from the early 2000s.

In 2000, there were 12,659 robberies during the same time period.

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