Burglars caught on surveillance video breaking into Northwest Side smoke shop

ByEvelyn Holmes and ABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Tuesday, February 20, 2024
Burglars caught on video at NW Side smoke shop
Chicago police are investigating a burglary at Urban City Smoke Shop on Foster Avenue in which there is surveillance video of the break-in. This is the 4th time they've been targe

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The owner of a Northwest Side smoke shop has shared surveillance video of a burglary Tuesday morning.

Chicago police said they responded to a burglary at about 12:30 a.m. at the Urban City Smoke Shop in the 4800-block of West Foster Avenue.

Police said three male suspects got out of a vehicle, broke a window and made entry. The suspects then took items from the smoke shop, left through a window and fled the scene.

The shop's owner shared surveillance video from inside, showing the suspects break in and jump over the counter.

The same shop was targeted in September.

"It's hard. I can't take much more because my insurance kicked me out of my policy because they don't want to deal with this anymore," said owner Richard Karamian.

Karamian said his shop has been hit by thieves four times in the last several months.

"It's real tough too, because I'm also behind on my rent, so it's actually been harder for me," he said.

It's unclear what the thieves took, if anything. Karamian said while the break-in could cost him thousands of dollars, others say the effects of crime on neighborhood businesses cost even more.

"A lot of the business owners are small mom and pop shops," said Bill Morton, president of the Rogers Park Chamber of Commerce. "And they are surviving month to month, sometimes."

Morton said about half the storefronts along Howard Street in Rogers Park are empty, primarily because small business owners can't bounce back from these crimes.

"Some businesses can't even recover after break-ins, you know. I know a lot of people who can't even recover after stuff like this," he said.

And while there's little data that specifically addresses the economic impact of crime on neighborhood businesses, a study from May 2022 in the Journal of Urban Economics concluded that property crimes, especially theft but including burglary, tend to have a negative impact on business longevity; consumers take crime rates into consideration when decided whether to visit a business; and the perception of violence and risk of victimization scare off customers, potentially making businesses less profitable.

"I'm at my breaking point right now because i opened up this business to be next to my father, to his liquor store, and he's getting robbed," said Karamian.

He vowed to keep the store he opened only a year ago open, and is also planning to open an online store. He said he's looking into a new security system and refuses to let thieves win.

"You've got to keep fighting through it. Don't let somebody tear you down and keep working at it," he said.

No one is in custody and Area Five detectives are investigating.

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