CHICAGO (WLS) -- Foot traffic and sales are up along Michigan Avenue compared to last year, as is retail theft.
"There is a notable increase in organized retail theft. These are sophisticated operations. They know how much money they are going to make if they steal a certain brand of merchandise, so they are targeting the high-end stores," said Alderman Brian Hopkins, 2nd Ward.
Chicago Police issued an alert to businesses around the Magnificent Mile after a series of thefts on East Delaware Place and Michigan Avenue, 700 N Michigan Ave., and East Grand Avenue and Michigan Ave.
The alert describes groups of thieves grabbing display items and leaving in waiting vehicles.
"They came in grabbed all the bags, pulled the wires out of the wall and proceeded to run out the front door," said one person who didn't want to be identified.
They said employees are afraid and want more done to protect customers and staff.
"It's very scary. I feel like someone is going to get hurt because they are carrying guns into the stores," they added.
Hopkins said he's heard the retail workers and potential shopper concerns about an escalation of crime.
"One of the reasons that it isn't picking up as fast as we'd like is safety and security," the alderman said. "That's on us. That's the City of Chicago's responsibility to keep its stores safe, keep our citizens safe. We have to step up our game to help the economy recover."
Some along the Mag Mile said they won't let any of this change their plans.
"I'm just not going to let it affect my life and enjoying the beautiful downtown we have," said Don Pasulka.
"I'm not going to be afraid to go anywhere, you know," said Renette Robinson. "It didn't prevent us. Chicago is beautiful, hopefully, no one ruins that."
Police issue alert for Magnificent Mile businesses after string of thefts