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Police say downtown will be safe this holiday season, but some businesses are still concerned

Loop business owner not sold on Chicago Police safety plan this holiday shopping season
Loop business owner not sold on Chicago Police safety plan this holiday shopping season 02:25

CHICAGO (CBS) -- It was January chilly in Chicago this mid-November Friday night – but that didn't keep crowds away from the Loop.

Between the Christmas tree lighting in Millennium Park and Christkindlmarket officially kicking off in Daley Plaza, the Loop was packed Friday night – with officers keeping a watchful eye.

Chicago Police say it's safe to come downtown for the holidays and visit restaurants and businesses. But as CBS 2's Charlie De Mar reported, some merchants aren't quite sold on the city's safety plan.

As the holiday rush officially begins, the Chicago Police Department is increasing its presence in retail districts across the city - including the Magnificent Mile and the Loop.

"Word to the wise and note to offenders that might think Chicago is ripe for any type of organized retail theft - we will find you, and we will hold you accountable," said police Supt David Brown.

But Scott Shapiro said he is skeptical of the Police Department's plans?

"There's only so many times you can tell me that we're going to be safe," he said.

Shapiro says he has a good reason to question to question the CPD.

His family's fine clothing store – Syd Jerome at 20 N. Clark St. - has been a staple for more than 60 years in the Loop. But in more recent years, it has been the target of multiple burglarizes and smash-and-grabs.

Shapiro even ended up in the hospital while intervening in a robbery in 2020.  

"I think it's important to have a physical presence - not just having a squad car parked somewhere with their lights on," Shapiro said. "I understand that it's great for optics, but it does nothing to reassure that the merchants like myself, or the customers, that they are safe."

This holiday season is also the first with the State of Illinois' new Organized Retail Theft Law in place. So far, violent retail crimes are on the decline, according to lawmakers behind the legislation.

Within four downtown neighborhoods we've tracked - Streeterville, River North, the Gold Coast, and the Loop – retail theft is up from a year ago but well below pre-pandemic numbers.


But Illinois Merchants Association President and Chief Executive Officer Rob Karr calls that decline into question.

'It doesn't tell the whole story," he said.

Karr told CBS 2's Tara Molina the drop could be attributed to how, and if, crimes are being reported.

AS for Syd Jerome's future in the Loop, Shapiro said, "Being the eternal optimist that I am, I can only hope that things will be better."

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