CHICAGO - With a combination of speed, brazenness and brute force, police say a well organized burglary crew has broken into dozens of businesses over the past month, usually stealing ATMs and cash registers.
They hit four businesses early Wednesday morning in Elmwood Park, Norridge and Chicago.
"4 AM, I heard the noise," said Jim, who lives above the bar he owns, George’s on Belmont in Elmwood Park. "There were four offenders here, knocked out the window, grabbed the ATM."
Surveillance video from the bar shows one of the thieves ramming the bar’s ATM like a tackling dummy, tearing the machine’s bolts from the floor.
Moments later, all four thieves pushed the ATM through the front window and loaded it into a Jeep.
"I yelled at them out the window. Didn’t matter to them at all. They actually swore back up at me. Threw it in their car and left. They already had one or two of them in their car."
Police believe this same crew is responsible for three other burglaries within an hour’s time this morning, stealing the ATM from a liquor store in Elmwood Park, a cash register from an Exxon station in Norridge, and breaking into a liquor store in the 4600 block of North Cumberland in Chicago. There they used what appears to be a field hockey stick to break in.
"They took whatever they could find in cash, and after one register wouldn't open, they took the register," said Manu Bhai, the store's owner.
Brian Goss is the police chief of the Norridge Police Department.
"The speed of how fast they are inside the building," said Goss. "Get the full ATM machine out in the vehicle and they’re gone. Mostly like I said in under two minutes."
Goss said the burglary crew has hit Norridge four times since December 24 and are believed responsible for dozens of break-ins throughout the Chicago area over the past few weeks.
Goss said the crew is tough to catch because they know that most suburbs have a limited pursuit policy, so they floor it when they’re spotted by police.
"We’re going to saturate the area with patrol, try to catch them outside their vehicle, cause that’s the ideal way to catch them," Goss said.
But until they’re caught, frustrated business owners say they feel helpless.
"There’s only so much we can do," said bar owner Jim. "If there’s no ramifications for what they do, they’re going to keep doing it. Things have to change somewhere."