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Jefferson Park, Portage Park, Norwood Park

Business Owner Fights Off Robber, Takes Away Gun In Portage Park Holdup Caught On Video

Car Care Auto Spa owner James Suh has training dealing with armed attackers, but he and police warn people should not resist if they are in a similar situation.

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PORTAGE PARK — A Portage Park business owner fought off and disarmed someone who tried to rob him at gunpoint earlier this month, an attack caught on the business’s security video.

About 7 p.m. Oct. 12, James Suh, who owns Car Care Auto Spa at 3618 N. Cicero Ave., was inside the business when a man in a hoodie, who had been pacing outside for a few minutes, came inside, pointed a gun at Suh and demanded money, Suh said.

Suh was on a conference call when the attempted robbery occurred and had just returned from his car with a recorder to tape the meeting. He forgot to lock the front door after he came back inside, he said.

Suh put up his hands and tried to calm the man, explaining he needed a key to open the cash drawer, he said. The video shows the man struggling with the gun, lowering it to unlock it and then pointing it at Suh again.

Suh, who is a concealed carry permit holder but did not have his gun on him, said he could see the man’s gun could not be fired.

“He brings it back up and is pointing it and I see the slide is locked back,” Suh said. “You can’t shoot me while it’s up like that … it was all in the heat of the moment. My mind was going a million miles a minute.”

Watch the video:

Suh tried to grab the man’s gun over the counter, but the man pulled away. Suh dashed around the counter, grabbed the man and chased him to the business entrance, where they tussled, video shows. Suh was able to pull the gun out of the man’s hands before he ran away.

A police spokesperson said no one has been arrested.

One of Suh’s assistants posted the footage of the attempted robbery on social media this week.

While Suh has had training dealing with armed attackers and situations like this, he warned fellow residents and store owners not to follow his example, acknowledging his reaction could have made the situation more dangerous.

“First and foremost, I was acting out of emotion — I don’t recommend to anyone what I did,” Suh said.

Credit: Ariel Parrella-Aureli/Block Club Chicago
Car Care Auto Spa, 3618 N. Cicero Ave. in Portage Park, is seen Oct. 26, 2022.

Police advise residents who are threatened to remain calm when confronted, remember any unique physical characteristics of the attacker or their car, be aware of their surroundings and install surveillance cameras to aid investigations.

“You have to be very vigilant and disciplined in safety protocols,” Suh said. “What is the solution here? Lock your doors and let customers in one by one?”

Aside from the scare, the incident was frustrating because the business is finally doing better after struggling through more than two years of a pandemic, Suh said. It also was the second time someone targeted the shop this month, Suh said.

At the end of September, a group of people tried to steal a car while an employee was washing it, Suh said. As is protocol, the car’s engine was on, as the heat helps dry the car, he said. The incident, which was also captured on the shop’s cameras, took place in the afternoon and during normal business hours.

The attempted robbery is “almost the risk of doing business,” Suh said.

“I’ve been doing this for a decade and nothing like this has ever happened, and now these two things have been happening,” he said.

Credit: Ariel Parrella-Aureli/Block Club Chicago
The Auto Warehouse, a used car dealership at 3632 N Cicero Ave. in Portage Park, as seen on Oct. 26, 2022.

In recent weeks, police have issued business and commercial alerts of several armed robberies and retail thefts occurring in four Northwest Side police districts, including the 16th District.  

Detectives issued an alert about recent smash-and-grab burglaries Monday at seven businesses on the Far Northwest Side.

Reported robberies in the 16th district are up 10 percent compared to last year, according to district data. The district has also seen a jump in car thefts compared to last year with a 53 percent increase, data shows.

Two days after the attempted robbery at Car Care Auto Spa, eight cars were stolen at midnight from The Auto Warehouse, a used car dealership across the street at 3632 N. Cicero Ave, police said.

The cars were found and returned, police said.

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