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Wicker Park store victim of flash mobbery

Luke Cho Midblend Supply Co. where teens created flashmobbery Wicker Park boutique taking $3000 jeans  Sunday July 29 2012

Luke Cho at Midblend Supply Co., where teens created a flashmobbery at the Wicker Park boutique taking $3,000 in jeans, Sunday, July 29, 2012 . | John H. White~Sun-Times.

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Updated: August 31, 2012 6:14AM

Call it a flash mobbery.

Nearly 20 teenagers flooded a popular fashion boutique on Milwaukee Avenue Saturday as the Wicker Park Fest crowd packed the street outside.

“I see a group of kids. They’re coming in the store in a marching way, like a team,” Mildblend Supply Co. owner, Luke Cho, said. “After the 15th or 16th teenager was inside I knew something bad was happening,”

At around 6:40 p.m., Cho locked the front door, a move that stopped another dozen or so teens from getting inside.

“We were overwhelmed pretty quickly,” Cho said. “It was more than 20 of them against four of my staff, including myself.”

Over the past few years, similar groups of teenagers have flooded stores and public streets to steal merchandise, commit strong-arm robberies, damage property and attack pedestrians.

On Saturday, the gaggle of thieves got away with about $3,000 worth of loot, mostly Nudie and Naked and Famous brand jeans, Cho said.

“We were extremely vulnerable and caught completely off guard,” Cho said. “There wasn’t a whole lot we could do other than lock the door and hope the police showed up right away.”

A security camera caught the shoplifting spree as the thieves distracted the sales staff and shoved clothes in backpacks. It took about four minutes and probably wouldn’t have lasted that long if the group’s getaway wasn’t temporarily impeded by the locked front door.

“They basically pushed us aside,” Cho said. “We were standing by the door. My staff got cuts and bruises and banged around until [the thieves] unlocked the door and got out. … So, it wasn’t a complete success from their perspective, but not a complete fail. But if everyone walked out with more stuff, it would have been devastating for us.”

Cho posted the security video on along with this message, “If you recognize anybody in this video, please call Chicago police at 312-744-8290. Police report No. HV-404817.”

No one had been arrested by Sunday, police said.


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