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Wicker Park, Bucktown, West Town

Bong Shoplifter Bites Bucktown Shop Owner, Also Chomps On Person Who Tried To Help, Police Say

"When you steal from a small business, you are stealing from us. It's personal. It's the same as taking a cell phone from my hand," said the shop's co-owner.

Mike Rudel shows the redness and bruising on his inner arms two days after an alleged shoplifter bit him.
Alisa Hauser/Block Club Chicago
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BUCKTOWN — A 23-year-old Lakeview woman who was shoplifting with an accomplice at a Bucktown smoke shop on Saturday night sunk her teeth into the shop owner’s forearms as he restrained her while waiting for police to arrive.

The dramatic scene played out at about 10:53 p.m. Saturday at St. Lucia’s Smoke Shop, 2075 N. Western Ave., according to Officer Norma Pelayo, a Chicago Police spokeswoman, and the store’s co-owner Mike Rudel, who suffered bruising in the struggle.

Pelayo said a “concerned citizen” who tried to help the store co-owner was “also bit in the arm” by the woman who’d been caught stealing several small items from the store. Both Rudel and the bystander were treated and released at the scene by Chicago Fire Department officers, Pelayo said.

The bites stung but did not break skin on either of the victims, Rudel said.

Adrienne Westenberger, 23, of the 400 block of West Barry Avenue, was charged with two misdemeanor counts of battery causing bodily harm and one misdemeanor count of retail theft, Pelayo said. Westenberger is scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 4.

Rudel and his girlfriend, Jasmine Rayman-Kinney, who co-own St. Lucia’s Smoke Shop, said they were at home nearby when they got an urgent message from an employee about a glass water pipe worth about $100. The pipe had apparently disappeared while a couple had been looking at it in the store’s back room, Rudel said.

Since the couple was still in the store at the time of the clerk’s text, Rayman-Kinney immediately checked the security camera footage and scrolled back a few minutes to see the man pocket the pipe. The woman had stolen various small items that were later found in her purse, Rudel said.

When Rudel and Rayman-Kinney asked the couple about the missing pipe, they claimed to have not taken anything. A few minutes had lapsed between when the pipe was stolen to when the couple was confronted. During that time, Rudel said the man had gone outside to put the pipe somewhere and came back to buy accessories for the stolen pipe.

But as Rayman-Kinney started to show them the security footage of the pipe getting pocketed on Rudel’s laptop, they “dashed out,” she recalled.

The man, a fast runner, got away as Rayman-Kinney chased him, but the woman was quickly caught by Rudel in the entryway of the store and dragged Rudel out onto the sidewalk in front of the shop.

Rudel restrained the woman in a bear hug for about three minutes. 

During that time, Rudel said the woman hit at his arms, bit him and screamed, “rape!”

Her cries caught the attention of a person passing by who screamed, “Let her go!”

Rudel said he and the shop clerk, Eric, who’d waited on the couple, told the passerby that the woman had just shoplifted. 

The passerby then tried to calm the woman down. As she reached out to touch the woman assuringly, coaxing her to stay calm, the woman bit the person passing by on the arm too, Rudel said.

On Sunday, Rayman-Kinney said that the man who stole the pipe had later been caught by police as well, according to a conversation that she’d had with a responding officer. Police were not able to confirm on Monday that the man had been eventually arrested, too.

Officer Jennifer Bryk, a Chicago police spokeswoman, said there is a second suspect in the case who has not been charged yet. It’s unclear if the man is being looked for by police or if he was arrested.

Rayman-Kinney did not regret the chase and said she was glad to see the woman arrested. The pipe has not yet been recovered.

“When you steal from a small business, you are stealing from us. It’s personal. It’s the same as taking a cell phone from my hand,” Rayman-Kinney said.

Echoing his girlfriend’s sentiments, Rudel said that as a co-owner of a small business, he plans to show up in court as he has done for other shoplifting incidents. At previous court cases, Rudel said he’s seen folks caught shoplifting from large corporations like Target and Walgreen’s get off more easily because no one representing the corporations shows up to court.

“Police were super quick and got here in three minutes and have been quick every time we have had a problem,” Rudel said.

The woman was at least the third or fourth shoplifter successfully caught by either himself or Rayman-Kinney since St. Lucia’s Smoke Shop opened four years ago, he said.

A bong like this was shoplifted before the attack.