Crime

911 refused to send police for “suspicious teens” during Sunday night robbery spree, Old Town woman says

Chicago police issued a community alert on Monday night to warn residents about a series of robberies that unfolded across the North Side on Sunday evening. But one Old Town resident says a 911 operator did not connect the dots between her boyfriend’s “suspicious person” call and the quickly unfolding robbery spree.

Officers detained three boys and a girl, all 13- or 14-years-old, in Lincoln Park after six separate robbery victims told police that the offenders were a group of three teen boys and a teen girl. Police on the scene of the detention even said they had video of the four detained teens leaving one of the robbery scenes.

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Nonetheless, prosecutors have so far charged the youths only with reckless conduct for running into the street as they bolted from police. Detectives continue to investigate the crimes.

As the robbery spree began unfolding shortly before 7 p.m., 911 callers and police officers on the street repeatedly described the offenders as four teenagers, with most saying the group consisted of three boys and a girl. All of the robberies occurred in the 18th (Near North) police district.

But an Old town woman says her boyfriend got an earful when he called 911 to report four teenagers acting suspiciously in an alley near their home as the robberies were breaking out.

“Four teens ran down the street yelling and acting suspiciously,” the woman said in an email. But when he gave those details to a 911 operator around the time of the third robbery, the call taker gave him a lecture instead of a police response.

“The dispatcher told him, “Sir, running and yelling isn’t a crime,’ and she refused to send any officers,” the woman said.

But the couple couldn’t believe their eyes when they woke up Monday and realized that the teens they called 911 about are responsible for robbing a senior citizen who lives next door.

“Those 4 kids beat and robbed our 65-year-old neighbor and were running from that! It was three boys and one girl,” the woman said.

“They were pretty young, but our neighbor said he was shocked at how violent they were.”

“It was unacceptable to ignore our call just because we didn’t witness the crime. [The boyfriend] saw something that didn’t seem right and called the police, which is what I thought you were supposed to do!”

Veteran employees of Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications — the office that handles 911 calls and police dispatches — were stumped by the call taker’s refusal to send the man’s information to dispatchers, too.

“We are furious,” the woman said about the attack of her neighbor. “This has been going on for far too long.”

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