As convenience store closes due to theft, desperate Chicago residents launch letter campaign asking political leaders to punish offenders

Residents of Wicker Park, a Chicago neighborhood with enough cachet to have a major mystery movie named after it, are worried about the closing of their local convenience store due to unsustainable levels of shoplifting. It is already too late for their 7-11 – its owner is closing and there is a Walgreens nearby that they fear for.

They seem to see the possibility that the expression “food deserts,” referring to urban neighborhoods that lack supermarkets or other venues to buy nourishing food, will soon be replaced by “retail deserts” (my expression) where there are no stores to buy anything. As a result, a local activist has launched a postcard writing campaign to their alderman and especially Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx and Chief Judge Timothy Evans, urging a crackdown on looters and thieves. CWB Chicago reports:

A long-time community activist in Wicker Park and Bucktown hopes neighbors will get involved in a letter-writing campaign to Cook County leaders as a neighborhood convenience store prepared to close its doors for good.

“The 7-Eleven at 1658 North Milwaukee is closing permanent after being pilfered daily by shoplifters the last year,” Steve Jensen said in a Facebook group post over the weekend. “We fear the Walgreens at 1601 North Milwaukee is next.” (snip)

Jensen told us that the staff told him theft was the reason for the store’s closure. He encouraged neighbors to pick up postcards from some local businesses and an alderman’s office to contact local leaders, especially Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx and Chief Judge Timothy Evans, about what’s happening.

“We cannot bear more empty storefronts,” Jensen said on Facebook.

In a crisp “how-to” guide, Jensen provided neighbors with some pointers for effective letter-writing.

“Be sure to describe your personal experience(s) while living in the neighborhood pertaining to your safety. If you are a business owner, explain how it’s affecting your business.”

Here is a picture supplied to CWBChicago of the empty store shelves as the 7-11 prepares to close.

This letter-writing campaign is a classic move in a democratic society and is to be applauded. But what a shame that citizens must plead with their government to enforce basic laws already on the books.

Fortunately, at least one local judge has gotten the message and is applying reasonable bail to recidivists. Another CWBChicago story:

 Jaheim Jackson smiled widely for his mugshot as police officers booked him for allegedly participating in a mob shoplifting raid on an Ulta Beauty store in Lakeview last week. A judge allowed him to go home by posting a $500 deposit in that case, which involved allegations of taking $8,500 worth of fragrances.

Cops arrested Jackson again late last week after investigators connected him to a similar raid on an Ulta store in suburban Berwyn two months ago.

While his bond court hearing on Saturday did not provide images of Jackson’s face, he sure didn’t sound like he was smiling as a different judge slammed him with a much higher bail.

“The alleged value of the goods that were taken was $2,865,” Judge Maryam Ahmad said after hearing allegations about the Berwyn case. “With that amount in mind, bail is set in the amount of $30,000-D.”

“That’s … That’s $3,000?” Jackson stammered in a stunned tone.

“You need $3,000 to be released from custody, Mr. Jackson,” the judge confirmed. A so-called “D bond” requires a 10% deposit for release.

“I’m not going to be able to be bonded out!” Jackson whined.

“You need $3,000 to be released from custody, Mr. Jackson,” Ahmad repeated as she asked prosecutors to name Jackson’s next court date.

Brava, Judge Ahmad!

Hat tip: Peter von Buol

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