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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Tuesday, March 5

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Roni / June 4, 2004 11:17 AM

First off, sorry to hear about the mugging and damn, Miss Red's got some ovaries.

Mugged? Nope. I did have a man cop a feel while walking past me the first year we moved into Chicago. He walked right past me and I was in shock that it happened and I didn't smack the fucker. Then I realized he had turned around and was coming for more. So I ran to the Payless where T was working. We were in that same Payless when a co-worker was robbed at gunpoint. Of course, T ran after the guy down State Street like a scene out of a movie.

Steve / June 4, 2004 11:19 AM

Fortunately, no. But then, I'm a strapping big lad and pretty risk-averse in my old age.

Mike Royko had a rule about always carrying a few hundred bucks in cash on him at all times to appease muggers (he didn't want to get slashed for only handing over $20). But the hours he kept back in the day gave him plenty of contact with the criminal element.

A dear friend of mine of twenty years got mugged back in Logan Square at 8 pm on a weeknight back in January. The guy didn't get anything of real value (he took her bag, which didn't have her wallet in it), but he did strike her hard enough with a martial arts kick move to tear her ACL. As an avid biker and self-employed go-getter, she was set back a fair bit by this -- thankfully, her alderman and victim's compensation fund should be covering the medical expenses and some lost wages. Oddly enough, her attacker also drove away from the scene rather than hoofing it.

The cynic in me is often surprised that people don't get randomly ripped off more often in our city. Especially in an age when just about any twenty- or thirty-something is usually carrying 500 bucks or more worth of MP3 player, cell phone, camera, PDA, etc.

jima / June 4, 2004 11:22 AM


Andrew / June 4, 2004 11:27 AM

I've never been mugged, but I'm seriously surprised never to have had anything stolen out of my car. I've left the windows down or cracked in my car overnight on a few occasions, and nobody's messed with it. One of my neighbors, on the other hand, has had a window smashed out on his car twice.

Archie / June 4, 2004 11:31 AM

When I am in the city, I'm usually carrying about 5 grand worth of camera equipment (DSLR and Lenses). Sometimes I am out shooting late at night too. Because of this, I always carry a 75,000 volt stun gun in my cargo pants pocket. Even though I think its illegal to carry in the city of chicago (ok in the burbs), Id rather have a non-lethal self defense measure than be robbed. In July they are coming out with a new model Air-Taser that shoots out 15 feet and has a laser sight. I think ill definitely score one of those. Check out the model X26c at

I dont believe in guns since they kill people. I do support non-lethal energy weapons though.


Naz / June 4, 2004 11:39 AM

Damn Archie, you are quite prepared aren't you? Though I have to say I understand your point - 5 grand worth of camera equipment...

'That Ian' / June 4, 2004 11:53 AM

No. If I did they'd get some keys and my drivers license...

anne / June 4, 2004 12:06 PM

I haven't, but my new roomate informed me the other day that she has been robbed or mugged 5 times. (It did make me get my renter's insurance policy up to date, which also covers my car's contents.) Other than that, on the street I hopefully look like the poor post-grad student that I am.

Carly / June 4, 2004 12:33 PM

Yes. Once I put down my purse at Big Wig, and someone walked off with it. They had the nerve to call me at my house on my cell phone later that night.

Also, I was walking home with a friend and a guy followed us from North/Milwaukee/Damen to Division and Damen and ripped off my purse. He ran to an awaiting car.

That was two cell phones, 2 id's, and two credit cards.

And once my rent check got sent to the wrong address and whoever picked it up forged it and was able to cash it at a Banco Popular, apparently without having to present ID. Eventually the returned check came to me and my landlord called saying she never got the check. The thing that pissed me off was that MY bank was the one that had to open up the investigation. I hope Banco Popular had to eat it.

Eliza / June 4, 2004 1:00 PM

I got robbed twice in Albuquerque -- once my apartment and once my car. But, honestly? I feel much safer in Chicago than Albuquerque.

Shylo / June 4, 2004 1:00 PM

In college, I used to go running late at night, carrying pepper spray. I did this often. And, occasionally, I'd pepper spray myself. Not good.

emily / June 4, 2004 1:01 PM

Never robbed or mugged in person, but in September '02 our car was stolen from the tightest parallel spot ever, right outside our apartment building in Evanston. That Honda CRX was Craig's baby, and I sometimes think that was the only way he could have ever let go of it.

Kris / June 4, 2004 1:18 PM

Twice in the space of a month. Which is why I moved out of Humboldt Park.

Peter / June 4, 2004 1:23 PM

I had my apartment broken into last year - by my shady neighbors from downstairs who had moved out the previous day. Thankfully, their burgling skills matched their holding a job skills and they made off with my spare change container.

Years ago I got to look down the barrell of a farmer's shotgun when I knocked on his door to ask for directions in the middle of the night. That was fun, especially since my friends were pissing on his barn.

Heather S. / June 4, 2004 1:46 PM

In the span of 15 months:
1. My apartment got broken into - I suspect the loser brother of the chain smokers who lived above me. They stole cds, dvds and went through my jewelery box. They ended up selling my cds to Record Recyclery and oddly enough a friend of mine bought one of my rare cds online from them.
2. My debit card got stolen - A pizza delivery guy stole my debit card. The manager of the pizza place, which is pretty big in Chicago, insisted the delivery guy would never do such a thing. The guy ended up buying a computer at Best Buy and some gas at 2 gas stations.
3. My car got broken into - Fixing the window cost more than the gym bag that was stolen.
4. Mugged in my entryway - I was able to park right infront of my apartment but it was extra dark because it was raining. Two african american men were waiting for me and ran after me into my doorway of my building. They said they just wanted money so I opened my wallet wide and gave them the $11 I had. The other started grabbing for my purse which I refused to give up until they started beating me with the 12 lb. bag of clay I was carrying. No joke. They looked through the purse and ran off only with my wallet which they ditched later. Thankfully I got it back with everything still in it. Needless to say, I moved and am overly cautious at night now.

Jen / June 4, 2004 2:22 PM

I've had my purse ripped off at least six times, once with a very expensive pair of glasses, once with a just-cashed paycheck (OUCH), and once with vacation photos, which for some reason pissed me off most of all.

When I was modeling way back in the day, someone stole my portfolio at the Metra station. What a useless fucking thing to steal.

Also got robbed outside of the Vic once, and in the bathroom at Crobar by some psycho chick jacked up on coke.

I don't get it. I'm almost six feet tall and look sort of pissed off most of the time.

Either way, I carry pepper spray now when I remember it, and I hardly ever carry a bag unless it's a small clutch. Being mugged is really frightening.

Naz / June 4, 2004 2:22 PM

Heather - what neighbourhoods were these?

amyc / June 4, 2004 2:33 PM

My car stereo was stolen on a sunny Saturday afternoon right by the tennis courts on Recreation Drive. Dorkily enough, I was attending a "Drum for Peace" gathering at the Totem Pole. Fucker cut a hole in my door to take the lock out, then ripped off my stereo, a canvas "Save the Manatees" bag (probably to hide the stereo in) and all the change from the coin purse I keep in the map pocket.

Even though it was a cheap stereo and I didn't get hurt or anything, the sense of violation was completely overwhelming to me at the time. I still remember walking back to my car and noticing the driver's seat reclined way back -- not at all how I left it -- and my brain was flashing "not right! not right!" for a few seconds until I was able to figure out what happened. Then I just felt devastated.

I can't imagine being mugged at gunpoint. Jesus, Naz & Miss Red -- I'm glad you're alright.

shechemist / June 4, 2004 2:45 PM

I have never been mugged. the only time my apartment has been broken into was when I was a grad student in NM. now that I have said that I have doomed myself.

daruma / June 4, 2004 2:47 PM

My parents' house in Ravenswood was robbed a long time ago, must have been in th 80's. My sister came home from school while the robbers were there, they left out the back door as she came in the front. They got a little jewelry, tv, radio, stuff like that.

Brenda / June 4, 2004 2:48 PM

On a busy Friday night many years ago ('90?), just after dark, a guy half-heartedly grabbed my purse strap when he walked by me and my VERY LARGE male friend near my apartment at Dakin/Sheridan. I had the purse on girl scout style, across my chest, so it didn't come off... but it did bruise my collarbone a little. When he wasn't able to get the purse off in one pull, he just kept walking by, at a normal pace, chattering with his friend, like nothing had happened. His nonchalance about the whole thing was actually more disturbing than the purse-snatching attempt itself.

Benjy / June 4, 2004 2:51 PM

I've never technically been robbed, but had a close call when living in Atlanta. My car was parked on a side street a park while I played softball. Some guy walked by and smashed the passenger-side window of my car, then kept walking. Somebody down the block walking their dog heard it and called the police, who were waiting when the guy returned a few minutes later to rob me. Caught him red handed! About 5 or 6 of my colleagues had also had their car broken into in this neighborhood, too, but we never heard of any more after they caught the breaking into mine...

Heather S. / June 4, 2004 2:59 PM

Naz - Avondale. The part I lived in was basically south of Addison, east of Pulaski, and noth of Belmont. Which is sad because I loved the area and lived there since 1996. There was always tons of parking and rent was reasonable.

Carlos / June 4, 2004 3:01 PM


About four years ago. The guy came up behind me and told me to give him all my money. Unfortunately I only had about six dollars so he wanted my watch which was expensive.

Oddly enough, I stopped wearing watches after that.

Hunter / June 4, 2004 3:16 PM

Four years ago in Evanston ... on Green Bay Road just south of Simpson. I literally didn't have my wallet, so they just knocked me around a bit and gave up.

Lyle from Lisle / June 4, 2004 3:45 PM

Once in San Francisco late at night by three teens. How'd they sneak up on me? *I was jammin' to my Walkman.* They could've been tracking me for blocks. Don't wanna rain on anyone's iPod, but walking the jungle with bud-blocked ears puts you at a disadvantage, any time of day.

A happy ending: months later the phone company informed me that hundreds of dollars had been charged to my (stolen) calling card from a state prison. They issued me a refund check for the full amount, though I'd never been billed for any of the charges.

paul / June 4, 2004 4:04 PM

Never at gun point.

When I was a photographer, 2 guys starting taking my equipment out of my car while I was on a payphone on the westside. I just went up to one of them, took my tripod out of his hand and hit him with it. I guess he didn't expect that and left, cursing at his friend who had backed off and didn't help him out.

One late night in Evanston, some homeless guy got in a fight with me, trying to take my Buffalo Joe's. We were both drunk and we must have looked like spazes trying to hit each other.

If there was a weapon involved in either of these incidents, I would not have fought back.

Al / June 4, 2004 4:12 PM

When I was a kid there was a rash of bikes being stolen in my neighborhood. Since I had two younger brothers my mom and dad were almost always at home with us. On two occasions we were outside playing when someone a few blocks over had their bikes stolen and started yelling. My dad would grab our two black labs out of the yard and start running down the street after them. Both times the kids who stole the bikes (high schoolers) were scared so shitless they jumped off the bikes and ran. I have a dog now and often walk around Hyde Park with him late at night, I'm surprised nothing has happened. It's amazing how people are so scared of dogs. I don't mind though.

Question: To all those who were mugged walking down the street. Did you have a premonition someone was up to something, like Naz did? Or was it a total surprise?

Alice / June 4, 2004 4:16 PM

I've been the victim of pickpockets, but never a violent mugging. (crosses fingers) Had some money stolen from my purse on the eL back in college, had a cheap camera stolen from my bag while on a bus in Rome, and some dumbass once stole my empty glasses case from my bookbag -- probably thought it was my wallet. Sucker.

Kris / June 4, 2004 4:47 PM

Al: I did have a sense. I was walking down North Avenue, from Western to Kedzie, and as I passed California my spidey-sense went off. I got the feeling that the three Latino kids behind me were following me, and I thought, "I should duck into this Burger King, just to be safe." But then I told myself I was just being paranoid and racist, so I kept walking. And then they jumped me.

daruma / June 4, 2004 5:59 PM

I totally blocked out my bike getting stolen! I was in my office, and this homeless guy came around trying to sell a bag of cat litter. He came back later, dumped the bag, and grabbed my bike. Traumatic! I had nightmares for a while. But my very nice boss bought me a new bike.

Ruthie Hansen / June 4, 2004 7:09 PM

I had three bikes stolen in three years in Hyde Park. One from inside the locked entryway of my apartment building, the others from outside. I also regularly had mail (netflix dvds, cards from my mom) stolen from my mailbox at my college dorm, which only staff had access to.
Never been mugged though, thank god. One of my neighbors got held up at gunpoint and I was scared for six months after that.

Carly / June 4, 2004 7:27 PM

Al: Yes, I started to get the feeling that someone was following us. So I told my friend I thought this and we stopped. I pretended to look for something in my purse and that's when he ran up and grabbed it from me. I only suffered a scraped knee and a broken nail.

The weird thing was his friend waiting with the car. It was all very set up. I'm pretty jumpy at night sometimes now, even though I don't live around there anymore

Vit / June 4, 2004 7:44 PM

never mugged (thankfully). The car has been broken into twice and vandalized three times and someone stole my jacket once on the bus, but I had layed it down and wasn't paying attention. I had a scooter stolen once too.

Cristy / June 5, 2004 1:16 AM

I think most muggers are repeat offenders

so if any of you are reluctant to shoot them, think again and see it as doing the community a service

susan / June 5, 2004 10:42 AM

Never successfully mugged--the only time someone tried, he ran away when my friend and I screamed at him. It probably didn't hurt that he was about a foot shorter than I was. Disturbingly, this happened right on the University of Chicago campus (57th and Ellis) at 10-11 on a summer evening.

I've had my pocket picked once, though that wasn't in Chicago. But I figured that was my karmic debt for the many times I've left my wallet/purse/keys/luggage somewhere and had it miraculously returned to me.

Jen / June 5, 2004 4:01 PM

neighborhood in which mugged the least: living in Rogers Park, Bucktown.

neighborhood in which mugged the most: working in Chatham (87th and the Dan Ryan, I do not recommend this neighborhood unless you drive an extremely shitty car or have a Very Big Firearm), living in Hyde Park.

christian / June 6, 2004 12:39 AM

I?ve never been mugged. My brother, when he lived in Chicago, was robbed a few times, only because he had a soft top jeep in the city, lost a spare tire and some change I think.

When I lived in Baltimore I used to work for my schools security department. On one early spring Saturday there was a rash of muggings, all the same m.o., mostly my friends getting mugged, by a guy on a bicycle no less. Of course all the guys that worked security were gung ho about finding the guy (he mugged one of our really good friends) knowing that they couldn?t do anything but call the police if they saw him. Luckily on his fourth or fifth mugging, he was caught by the police. I couldn't believe that this guy would mug so many people on the same day in the same neighborhood, a freaking art school neighborhood no less.

A lex / June 6, 2004 10:09 AM

When I was about 10, my mother, sister and I pulled into a gas station. My mother was sitting in the front seat, I in the back and my sister got out to pay for the gas. There were 3 sketchy looking guys -- or should I say kids, they couldn't have been older than 15 -- standing outside the gas station when all of a sudden, one of them walked right up to my mother's door, opened it and tried to grab her purse.

Now my mother is one ballsy woman, so she just holding on to her purse and that was all there was to it. Meanwhile, I was in the back yelling and yelling and grabbed an umbrella we had and began repeatedly beating this kid in the head.

So you had my mother fighting with him, me pressing the button to POP the umbrella open again and again on his face and my sister runs out of the gas station yelling, "What are you doing?"

The kid was so embarrassed that he was getting his ass kicked by a woman and a kid, his friends were laughing at the botched attempt, he finally stopped.

He reached to the ground and picked up the items that had spilled out of my mother's purse: lip stick, blush, photos, chewing gum, handed them to her and all he could say was "Sorry..."

Looking back, if he had been a hard ass, he could have easily just slapped the crap out of both of us or worse.

christiana / June 6, 2004 10:25 AM

I was at Clarke's on Belmont, sitting in the booth next to the window, where I placed my purse on the window ledge. Apparently some homeless man came in and they seated him in the booth behind ours. He saw my purse and reached over, grabbed it and then left.

The sad thing is that we were so engrossed in conversation that we didn't even notice until it was time to leave.

I was out a $500 digital camera (with pictures I had just taken at my grandparents' 50th anniversary party!), a handful of credit cards, work/house/car keys, $7 cash, a loaded Chicago card, drivers license AND social security card and a brand new Kenneth Cole handbag that I had just purchased several days before.

The most irritating part is that I didn't even want to go to Clarke's! There are much better places to eat around there. Bleh.

Lisa / June 6, 2004 10:46 PM

I never carry a purse, so I used to think I could avoid all of the purse-snatching drama and thievery, but I now know the utter naivity of that view since I have been pickpocketed... twice.

The first time was infinitely worse because the bastards not only nabbed my wallet, but they sort of stole my identity. First they went shopping all over the city, which was infuriating enough, but what's worse was that they also took out credit cards in my name... and I had no idea until the bills started showing up at my apartment. "Wait, when did I get a credit card at Sony and charge $3000 worth of merchandise?"

The second time, I knew what to do, so they only got a tankful of gas... and my wallet was actually recovered by a kindhearted bartender at the Gingerman who found it with some others behind the bar by the garbage

Pete / June 7, 2004 8:06 AM

1991--I was mugged by three teenagers in the vestibule of my apartment building at Roscoe & Seminary. I obviously should have been more careful--I was moderately drunk, and the leather bomber jacket I was wearing might as well have come with a neon sign saying "Steal Me"--but the whole thing still seemed so unfairly arbitrary. Oh, and though I would have simply given them the coat just under the threat of physical violence, they were kind enough to break my nose as a bonus, which required surgery, over a thousand dollars of out-of-pocket expenses and a very uncomforable recovery.

The incident scarred me emotionally more than almost anything else that's happened to me personally. I was relieved to move to the boonies of Champaign a few months later.

Laura / June 7, 2004 9:26 AM

The creepiest was 5 years ago when my boyfriend and I walked down the alley near the Damen blue line stop. It was about 2 pm, lots of people around, and three guys tried to jump us. What made it particularly unsettling is that they DIDN'T try to get his wallet or my purse, they were just out to kick someone's ass. Luckily we got away from them.

Otherwise nothing violent or confrontational, just the usual city-living hassles(window broken out of car, wallet stolen out of purse at crowded el stop, bungled attempt to break into my car's trunk that resulted in a broken lock but nothing taken).

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