Man sparks conversation then robs victims in Wicker Park, police say

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Police are searching for a man who committed three armed robberies within a week in the Wicker Park neighborhood on Chicago's Northwest Side.

All three incidents have taken place between 9 and 11 p.m. in proximity to the busy North Avenue and Damen business corridors. The incidents occurred June 4 in the 1400-block of North Damen Avenue, June 9 in the 1600-block of North Honore Street and June 10 in the 1400-block of North Hoyne Avenue, police said.

Police said that based on the offender's weapon and the way he's approaching victims, they believe the crimes are being perpetrated by the same person.

In each incident, the offender sparks up a conversation or does something to grab the victim's attention before flashing a gun and announcing the robbery, police said.

So far no one has been injured, but police said the suspect is approaching his victims on foot armed with a black and blue steel handgun. He then threatens them with it before taking off with their belongings.

"I moved to this area because it was one of the safer neighborhoods," resident Trisha Hydzik said. "I go to school at DePaul so I was looking for a neighborhood where I would feel safe to walk home after work."

Police said in two of the three instances, the suspect approached a lone victim walking down the street. But his most brazen crime was his first, when detectives said four people were walking through the park in the 1400-block of North Damen the night of June 4. The suspect called out the words "Hey, come here!" before pulling a gun on them and taking off with their wallets and cell phones.

Garrick Wright has lived in the neighborhood two years now and often comes home late at night.

"Just pay attention to what's going on around you, watch who's walking around you or keep an eye out for where you're parking. Make sure you're in visible places, things like that," Wright said.

Police are working to determine whether someone they've recently placed in custody is directly related to the incidents.
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