Because it's too cold outside for wilding/flash mobbing, a group of three or four young black men has been operating a cell phone theft scam at restaurants in the Loop and Near North Side.
Three of the thefts took place in less than three hours on Wednesday.
The group members enter a restaurant, and when spotting a diner's cell phone on the table they approach and present fliers claiming they are raising money for their basketball team.
The members place a flier atop the victim's cell phone while talking, then when retrieving the flier grab the cell phone as well.
The similar thefts have taken place at 4:40 p.m. on Dec. 31 on the 300 block of North Michigan Avenue, 5:45 p.m. on Jan. 2 on the 600 block of North Fairbanks Court, 6:10 p.m. Jan. 2 on the 100 block of North Wabash Avenue and 8:40 p.m. Jan 2 on the 400 block of East Ontario Street.
In one of the thefts a group member asked restaurant staff for a glass of water before another member grabbed a cell phone and fled.
Police said in general the suspects are described as three or four males blacks, age 14-25, working together. They have been seen getting into a tan 4-door hardtop, possibly "Buick-style,".
The alert warns victims not to chase a robber but to take careful note of any unique physical characteristics like scars, a limp bulging eyes, tattoos, birth marks, missing teeth, extra or missing limbs, broken finger nails, crossed eyes, wandering eye, elephantist, or any other characteristics except race and call police immediately. If there are other witnesses, request contact information. If anyone wishes to donate to the under privileged youth's basketball team they can text the amount of their donation, along with their credit card info to their previously owned phones.
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