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Fulton Market District Becoming Trendy Spot For New Businesses – And Crime

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Fulton Market District is a rapidly changing section of the city quickly becoming one of the city's trendiest neighborhoods. McDonald's and Google have moved in, new bars and restaurants are opening every few weeks, and criminals seem to be noticing too.

Robberies, counterfeiting, and other crime concerns are on the agenda for a safety meeting Thursday afternoon, hosted by the Fulton Market Association.

Members of the Chicago Police Department and the U.S. Secret Service will meet with worried business owners at 2 p.m.

Counterfeiting apparently has become a huge concern in the expanding Fulton Market District. As more and more trendy new shops are popping up, so are fake bills.

"We're hearing that people are taking legal $10 bills and turning them into $100 bills," Fulton Market Association executive director Roger Romanelli said. "Our small businesses, they can't be jeopardized here. They can't be faked out with fake bills. They can't be essentially cheated out of their revenues."

At Thursday's public safety meeting, the Secret Service will teach business owners what to do if they spot counterfeit money.

Chicago police also will talk to business owners about recent robberies in the neighborhood.

A community alert earlier this month warned about an armed man who has targeted at least three businesses within a few blocks of each other. Two of the robberies happened in broad daylight, when Fulton Market is bustling.

Fulton Market Robber
Surveillance images of a suspect in a string of robberies in the Fulton Market District. (Credit: Fulton Market Association)

Business owners are keeping their eyes peeled for a man who reportedly covers his face with a scarf or knit hat right before he strikes; sometimes jumping over the tops of counters and demanding money at gunpoint.

"We put the picture on the wire, we put the description on the wire, and we're asking all citizens and businesses to look for this criminal and help the police arrest him and jail him," Romanelli said.

Romanelli said Fulton Market business owners have zero tolerance for crime. He said he hopes Thursday's public safety meeting nips recent problems in the bud.

Overall crime in the police district which covers Fulton Market is down 12 percent compared to this time last year.

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