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New Law Cracks Down On Smash-And-Grab Burglaries That Have Plagued Mag Mile

Businesses have lost millions, and the burglaries put customers and shop staff at risk, officials said.

Shoppers, some wearing face masks, walk in the sun along the Magnificent Mile in Downtown Chicago as the weather warms up on April 11, 2022.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — A new state law will crack down on smash-and-grab burglaries form crime rings like those that have targeted Mag Mile shops.

Gov. JB Pritzker signed the anti-organized retail theft crime bill Friday morning at Water Tower Place, a key building in Chicago’s most famous shopping corridor. The bill comes as high-end Mag Mile shops and other businesses have seen large groups of thieves come in, swarming stores and stealing items before leaving.

Businesses have lost millions, and the burglaries put others at risk, officials said.

Organized retail crime has affected many spots, “including right here on Michigan Avenue,” Pritzker said during a news conference. “It’s dangerous for store employees and customers alike.”

The bill will provide resources to businesses and investigators to coordinate how they prevent and respond to the thefts, and it’ll close loopholes so the thieves can be prosecuted, officials said.

“This is not aimed at a low-income parent desperate to feed their child,” Pritzker said. “This is about a multi-billion-dollar industry of organized criminals carrying out sophisticated theft operations to turn a profit on the retail market.”

Some major companies have threatened to pull out of commercial corridors due to the smash-and-grabs.

The bill will help prevent “militarized storefronts and empty commercial corridors,” Pritzker said.

Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd), whose ward includes retail-heavy parts of Downtown, praised the law, saying it will benefit his constituents.

“We need stronger tools to fight that, and this legislation is a strong step in the right direction,” Reilly said. “On behalf of Downtown Chicago, our residents and our retail community thank you, governor.”

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