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Man charged in ‘Lifeguard’ robberies, North Shore hold-ups

AustPierce / Phoprovided by Chicago police.

Austin Pierce / Photo provided by Chicago police.

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Updated: June 4, 2012 11:13AM

A 25-year-old Chicago man has been charged in the May 17 armed hold-up of a Northfield candy store and another armed robbery the following day at a boutique in Winnetka.

Northfield and Winnetka police have charged Austin R. Pierce, of the 2800 block of North Oakley Avenue, in the hold-ups at the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, 300 S. Happ Road, Northfield, and Creme de la Creme, located on the 900 block of Green Bay Road in Winnetka’s Hubbard Woods shopping district.

The daytime robberies were among a series of store holdups that local authorities believe were committed by the same offender between May 16 and May 18. The bandit was dubbed the “Lifeguard” robber because he wore a red-hooded sweatshirt with “Lifeguard” printed in white letters.

Pierce faces one count of armed robbery, a Class X felony, in the Northfield case. According to Northfield police, a man walked into the candy store shortly after 10:30 a.m. May 18 and wielded a knife as he demanded money. He left with an undisclosed amount of cash. Northfield police alerted nearby schools to the crime and noted the suspect was at large.

He also has been charged with two counts of armed robbery in the May 18 hold-up at Creme de la Creme, a boutique carrying clothing, food gifts and other items. About $225 was taken by an offender who first appeared to be “casing” the business.

Pierce is due for a bond hearing at 9 a.m. Friday in the 2nd District Courthouse, 5600 Old Orchard Rd., Skokie.

Police say the charges stemmed from a muti-jurisdictional effort by authorities in Chicago and the suburbs where crimes fitting the same pattern were committed.

Police believe the same offender was responsible for a hold-up May 17 at Claire’s, a girl’s accessory store in The Glen, and a May 16 robbery at the Yellow Bird stationery store at 1515 Sheridan Road in Wilmette. About $200 was taken during from Yellow Bird, which is located in the Plaza del Lago shopping center.

Pierce has also been charged with three counts of armed robbery with a dangerous weapon for allegedly robbing several Lincoln Park businesses while armed with a knife and syringe.

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