Guardian Angels patrol 'Muggers Mile' during peak tourist time

July 23, 2013 (CHICAGO)

The Guardian Angels patrolled the Magnificent Mile by Chicago and Michigan Tuesday. The main target of thieves: smart phones.

But smart-phone theft is going on all over the country. So are the Angels being alarmists and threatening tourism?

The city says tourism numbers now are record breaking. And a police spokesperson said there are hundreds of thousands of people on the Mag Mile every day; incidents, they say, are isolated, and arrests are being made.

The Chicago Police Department website shows 19 street and sidewalk incidents and nine CTA incidents occurring in a two-week period of July, in the Gold Coast, Streeterville and River North neighborhoods.

Guardian Angels have back pedaled a bit, not flat out calling it Muggers Mile, but now saying they don't want it to become ''Muggers Mile.''

"The Magnificent Mile has become a hotspot and a hotbed for muggers to come here and prey upon victims," said Thomas Hunt, Guardian Angels. "People used to pay attention to what they're doing. Nowadays, they're doing this all day long."

Fueled by the rise in cell phone theft citywide last month, Ill. Attorney General Lisa Madigan joined a national coalition that is calling on smartphone manufacturers to build kill switches into their phones that would render them useless.

"This is about the device, not the data. On the secondary market, you have the settees who are wiping the phones and immediately turning to eBay, Craigslist and other sites like that, looking to sell them for a quick buck," said Natalie Bauer, attorney general's office.

Copyright © 2023 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.