I got robbed at gunpoint in my really nice Chicago neighborhood. What do I do now?

1024px-107th_StreetBeverly_Hills_Metra_StationI’ve lived in the Chicago area my whole life. I’ve lived in the city proper since 1998. I’ve never been robbed at gunpoint.

There’s a first time for everything and last night was my first time. I want it to be my last.

I was walking home from the Metra at 107th St. It’s an eight-minute walk for me. I was on my block, steps from my house when two guys in their late teens/early 20s robbed me. One had a gun. It was big. And it was sticking in my chest.

The whole time I’m thinking “Of course they have a gun. That’s what you do when you want to rob someone. You scare them with a gun so they give up anything of value. A gun turns a struggle into an obvious outcome.” It seemed so typical. Here’s my mugging!

I tried to use a few seconds to stall so I could get my bearings. How much danger am I in? (Quite a bit.) Is there anyone around? (Nope.) Do I have a choice in how this ends? (Hope so.)

They got my wallet, my phone and my work laptop. Physically, I’m fine and safe because I didn’t prize my possessions over my future. And because these guys hoped the long-established storyline would play out exactly as it did.

Crime should not feel inevitable. But it’s felt like that lately in Chicago. For many people, including me. Even though I live in a safe neighborhood. There’s too much of it happening here for it not to affect you, no matter what neighborhood you live in. I’ve been telling anyone who will listen that Chicago’s tribalism, enforced by neighborhood boundaries, contributes to the problem. As long as it happens somewhere else, it’s OK. As long as it involves gangs, it’s OK because you’re not in one so it won’t happen to you. Even though it’s only a matter of time until it hits home. It did for me last night.

I am not special. This exact scenario plays out many times across the city. Similar ones happen often with far more lethal results. As someone who closely follows what happens in this city and this neighborhood, I’m aware of the potential danger.

Mine wasn’t the only recent robbery around here. There was another armed robbery last week near the 107th Metra station. According to reports on local community Facebook groups, there was a robbery four blocks south at the 111th station. And one last week at 96th and Damen. There were recent robberies at businesses near the 103rd St. Metra stop. People in our neighborhood are being targeted because they’re comforted by the safety and are more likely to have something worth taking.

More crime is happening here because we live in a safe neighborhood. Mull that one over for a while.

I did all the things you’re supposed to do right after a robbery: called the police, canceled my credit cards, changed the locks (my keys were in my bag and they had my driver’s license). The cops at the 22nd District – five officers and a detective – could not have been more kind, thoughtful and thorough.

Plenty of people will read the above details and use it to support their own conclusions about the causes of crime in Chicago. I know this because I’ve already read comments from people on our neighborhood Facebook groups who are quick to blame it on a particular demographic group (which is a crock because the actions of a few are not indicative of the many) or use it as evidence of why concealed carry should be allowed on trains (which is also a crock because many people, including me, would still choose not to carry even if they could and a good guy with a gun doesn’t always stop a bad guy with a gun).

I’m a bleeding heart liberal and an avid reader. My opinion has been when you don’t give people economic options and don’t make them feel safe and don’t invest in their neighborhoods they’ll do what they can to survive and use crime as an economic opportunity. I still think that.

But I’m also a realist. And I know some people are just assholes.

The real cause is somewhere in the above three paragraphs. Probably the last two.

When my wife posted to our local Facebook groups about what happened – in an effort to find a locksmith who’d come out this evening – people messaged her saying the recent robberies in our neighborhood are making them put their houses up for sale. This is unusual. Folks live here for decades. People don’t move from Beverly, they move to Beverly. Usually because their parents raised them here. Or they’re looking for what it has to offer. Maybe that’s about to change.

I know what happened to me is minor compared to what has happened to others who don’t have the resources or support I have. Or to people who aren’t targets themselves but are caught between the person who is and the person with a gun. I walked away with an unpleasant experience. Most people who have a gun pointed at them in Chicago don’t walk away.

Chicago’s murder rate gets a lot of attention. But the robbery, assault and other crime rates don’t get as many frequent updates even though they hit people where they live, too. And they’re making people leave where they live.

Not me though. I’m staying to fight. I’ve lived in this neighborhood for five years. We have the best burger and best ice cream in the city. There are many other things to recommend it: the churches, the schools, the people.

I’ve already written the alderman – he’s a good guy and cares about the people who live here – and I plan on talking more about this in the future. I’ve told him I’m willing to help, however I’m able, to deal with our neighborhood’s short term crime problem and the city’s larger problems. If you follow me online, you know I’m not exactly quiet about the problems in Chicago and how our priorities are often out of whack. It’s always been personal for me. I love this city so very much; it is my joy but it is also my sorrow.

Tonight Chicago’s crime problem hit me on the street where I live.

It’s not enough for me to talk about it anymore, it’s time for me to do more. If I’m not doing more, I’m not doing enough.

I hope I motivate others to do the same.

UPDATE: I’m no longer publishing comments made on this post, regardless of tone. I don’t have the time to sift through them and keep the discussion from getting out of hand. Thanks to those who sent along their thoughts.

51 comments for “I got robbed at gunpoint in my really nice Chicago neighborhood. What do I do now?

  1. Dave Stanford
    June 19, 2014 at 7:20 am

    Glad your safe, and all they took were things.

    You just breezed over the description of the robbery, probably because you wanted to talk about them in general instead of in specific, but I’d like more info on how it went down, if only to be more prepared for when my turn comes.

  2. Scott Smith
    June 19, 2014 at 7:29 am

    Dave: I have details on the offenders that have been shared with the cops and local community groups. It didn’t feel necessary to share that here for safety and other reasons.

    As far as what happened, one guy came up behind me then stepped in front of me and put the gun in my chest. He told me “Gimme your stuff” and repeated that a couple of times. They demanded my phone and my bag and my wallet. I didn’t resist as much as I wanted to look around a bit for detail. They were talking fast and trying to keep me off balance. I fell down at one point when they grabbed my bag.

    If you’re in a similar situation, I’d say try to be aware of your surroundings and give them anything of value as that’s what they want. And if you can use the moments afterward to get very clear details in your heard about what they look like then that’s immensely helpful for the discussions afterwards.

    • PDP
      June 19, 2014 at 1:19 pm

      I got mugged at gunpoint two years ago near the Rockwell brown line stop. My best advice: yes, be cooperative and give up your stuff but be prepared with a GPS tracker on your phone. I was using ‘Find My iPhone’ and even though the battery was dead I was able to locate it on a map the next morning. I communicated with the tactical officers and less than 72 hour after the incident I was picking my mugger out of a line-up. He’s in prison now serving a long sentence.

    • PDP
      June 19, 2014 at 1:36 pm

      Two years ago I was mugged at gunpoint near the Rockwell stop. The mugger stole my phone and (somewhat oddly) only the cash in my wallet. He shot the gun to startle me (which worked) and ran off. I tracked the GPS location of my phone and communicated its location to the tactical officer working my case. Less than 72 hours after the incident I was picking my mugger out of a line-up. My advice. Make sure you know how to use the GPS tracking features on your phone and stay in communication with the police.

      • PDP
        June 19, 2014 at 1:37 pm

        Oops sry for the double post. I god an error the first time. Weird

    • Rashelle
      June 19, 2014 at 2:16 pm

      I appreciate your level headed response to such a scary situation. I have lived in Beverly for 10 years, and recently a friend and neighbor was beaten bloody outside my doorstep. And the men responsible did not even rob him. It seems they were just out busting skulls for fun. Did it scare me? Yes. Did I want to leave. No. This is my home, and my neighbors and I were just emboldened to watch over each other and protect each other. I am in complete agreement with your response to the situation. We must be careful to not act in a knee-jerk manner when these terrible things happen.
      However, I do feel there is a huge conversation that most people are scared shitless to have…. and that is the conversation about gun control.

  3. Mandy Zaransky
    June 19, 2014 at 7:42 am

    Good lord, Scott! So glad that you are ok. My aunt and uncle have lived in Beverly for over 25 years. It’s a neighborhood filled with cops and families… I hope they catch these guys and that it is just a few punks on a robbing streak. Glad that you are physically ok. A big hug. -Mandy

  4. June 19, 2014 at 7:46 am

    I’ll second Dave’s sentiment that I’m glad you’re safe.

  5. Anthony McKenna
    June 19, 2014 at 8:27 am

    Glad you are safe Scott.

  6. Jan
    June 19, 2014 at 8:33 am

    I’m so sorry this happened. Can I ask what time it was?

    • Scott Smith
      June 19, 2014 at 11:35 am

      630pm

  7. Jenni
    June 19, 2014 at 8:52 am

    Scott, I’m sorry – I know exactly what it feels like to be robbed at gunpoint and it’s a shock to the system. If you want to talk to someone who knows what it’s like firsthand, I’m here for you, my friend. Big hugs!

  8. Ryan
    June 19, 2014 at 8:58 am

    Scott,

    As someone who has lived in Uptown for 10+ years and seen things that make your robbery look like a tickle fight I have a few more tips for you. First, we have a great Alderman now in Uptown but that doesn’t mean you should rely on he/her. Get to know your area Police Commander. Send the Commander emails and updates. I see you have “Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy: meetings in Beverly. Attend them, and speak up.

    You left out a lot of details about the guys who mugged you, but ask yourself why did they target you? What made you a mark? If your gut didn’t tell you something was amiss, then you need to reevaluate how you see your surroundings and how you carry yourself. By the middle of your article you had somehow made your assailants the victims, and you a 1% keeping the man down.

    Also Concealed Carry aren’t just to protect who is carrying, they are meant to give criminals something to think about. Maybe you are carrying, maybe you are not. That is an added risk they take. Once again, they targeted you because you were an easy mark to them not because you were rolling up in a Bentley.

    Once again, sorry this happened. Keep your head on a swivel, and stay involved. Things change, look at the progress in Uptown.

    Take Care

    • WAB
      June 19, 2014 at 11:16 am

      So, if Scott were carrying, the robbers would have gotten a laptop, a phone, a wallet, AND a gun!

    • Chris Thomas
      June 19, 2014 at 9:50 pm

      Concealed carry would not have helped in this situation, or most. The problem is that by the time most people find themselves needing their defensive weapon, they’ve already got the drop on them. Too late to draw when a weapon is in your chest. The assailant probably would have taken the gun, too.

      Additionally, even if you had situational awareness and noticed them coming towards you, in Illinois, you can’t just whip out your weapon just because someone made you nervous. You can go to jail for that. So in reality, you’re screwed both ways, with or without a gun. Illinois gun use laws aren’t written to protect you proactively, rather defensively – after you’ve been assaulted. Coming from a gun guy, you’re truly not that much safer.

  9. June 19, 2014 at 9:14 am

    Dear Scott — so very very sorry that this happened you. It sounds just terrifying. I am a born in Chicago Chicagoan. I grew up I rogers park and I have lived all of mylife on Chicago’s north side. The things that happened to me and my friends as young girls running free in RP would scare you to your core– sexual harassment by grown men, molestation. Solicitation for sexual acts at gun point, rapes, brutal attacks by insane people armed with deadly weapons. The stuff that happened when we were tweens we took for granted as just life The brutal stuff that happened later made most of us leave when we had kids. We took it as a fact of life in the city. I still think it is a fact of life the city. We are living all crammed tigether here and we are all kinds — including assholes and sick people. As to reasons why, a man does not expose his naughty bits to 12 year old girls for economic reasons nor does a man point a gun at a 12 year old girl from a black Cadillac for economic reasons — that happened to me– I ran to a friends house. Most of the every day sexual “assault” that we experienced was not reported to police because we did not want our parents to freak out. So this won’t make you feel better. There’s no solution other than to be ever alert andwatch each other’s backs and be solid as a community. I’m glad I had a friends house to run to. Know the people in the blocks around you. Be solid and support each other. Chicago neighborhoods are not gated communities– they are porous and open to everyone– know this and be vigilant and protective of the ones you love. Be smart.

  10. GSL
    June 19, 2014 at 9:30 am

    You’re probably going to get a few trolls saying (despite what you write in the blog post) that you could’ve stopped them if you’d been armed… of course, from what you describe, they were fast enough that there’s no way you’d have had time to pull out a gun, and the end result would’ve just been that they’d have taken both your stuff AND gotten a shiny new gun.

    And if you’d been open-carrying? They’d have shot first, and THEN taken your stuff. And the gun.

  11. June 19, 2014 at 9:37 am

    Good for you Scott, doing something to change the stats is great. A lot of people don’t realize that this type of crime happens often, and everywhere. It’s no reason to be scared, but reason to fight back any way we can.
    I had a machete held to my throat in Nicaragua and gave up my purse (with wallet, phone, cash etc.) but I had a good chance to look at the 3 men robbing us. When we later went to the police station, they had rounded up a dozen gang members and we all identified the exact same 3 men – not only does this put those guys away, it deters other gang members from doing the same. Anyway, your point about getting a good look and taking the time to remember the details is really important. Hope you and your wife are feeling safe and secure, it can be pretty unnerving for something like this to happen. Best wishes.

  12. NJC
    June 19, 2014 at 9:40 am

    This has been an on going issue for YEARS. People are now just becoming aware of it due to social media. I was mugged at Hurley park back about 7-8 years ago and my gf at the time as with me. Needless to say I gave them what I had they made the mistake of giving
    me my keys back (and I had my phone hidden on me) and I pursued, they were caught and tried. She was mugged again 6 months later around 101st and Hoyne. Multiple muggings were going on around that time, even of those getting off the metra, I know because I was on a committee. Yet I still knew of a few people that were mugged in that time period. There was always talks of stepping up police presence and whether that happened or did anything I don’t know.

  13. Janet A
    June 19, 2014 at 9:45 am

    Scott, I was mugged in 2007 on my way home in Ravenswood Manor. It happened almost exactly how yours happened. My mistake was paying attention to where I was walking on the icy sidewalk so as to not fall and bust my ass. I was unable to give a good description to the cops because the offenders looked like anyone else I would see on the street. I cannot think of anything I could’ve done to prevent it, and ultimately the only thing of value they got was my iPod. I was lucky. Shaken, but lucky. So, I don’t have any advice for others to avoid being mugged, but if it happens don’t fight it. Just let them go. It’s just stuff, really.

  14. Tom Kadzielawski
    June 19, 2014 at 9:59 am

    Geez! So glad you weren’t hurt, Scott. Keep fighting the good fight!
    TK

  15. June 19, 2014 at 10:04 am

    So sorry to hear this, but glad you are safe. While I am originally from the suburbs, I now live in Southern Illinois, which is supposed to be a “safe” rural area. For the most part through the years it has been. However, over the past few months break-ins and vandalism has been increasing. It has even spread to farm homes and other homes in the country which are typically less accessible to criminals. Crime is everywhere, and it’s getting worse.

    I think the reasons you listed are correct, but I also believe it is related to people being more self-centered and less concerned about caring about our neighbors. When we don’t love our neighbor, it’s easier to wrong them.

  16. Craig
    June 19, 2014 at 10:06 am

    Holy crap, Scott! Glad you’re OK physically.

  17. Kurt Nimnicht
    June 19, 2014 at 10:08 am

    Glad you are ok Scott. Very well thought out and eloquent words in the wake of what I’m sure was a blood boiling experience. Thank god possessions were the only thing lost.

  18. June 19, 2014 at 10:08 am

    I don’t know you – I live up in Toronto, Canada; but I hear a lot about Chicago from people like Chance the Rapper, who speaks on the violence that happens there and how much pain everyone’s feeling. Chicago’s been touted often to me as the Toronto of America – just with ten times the gun violence.

    Despite what happened to you, I have to say I’m impressed with how rational and lucid your account of everything is. You’re not pointing fingers. You’re not playing the victim card and looking for sympathy.

    You’re identifying a problem, and recognizing that a solution is needed immediately.

    I hope everything is recoverable, and I’m interesting in seeing what change comes from this.

    Good luck and Godspeed!

  19. Anne
    June 19, 2014 at 10:08 am

    I had a very similar incident happen to me several years ago in another quiet neighborhood. Like you, I only lost stuff and wasn’t injured by the guy who was pointing a gun in my face as he took my wallet and cell phone. In the brief time while it was happening, I was memorizing every detail I could observe about him. Afterwards, as I was walking a few blocks to my destination to call 911, I encountered a squad car and told them what happened. They put the info out over the air.

    A little while later, two officers showed up at the door where I was visiting and took a more detailed statement. While they were talking to me, they got a radio call saying “hey, do you have your victim there? Looks like we may have the suspect.” I went to ID him. It was the same guy. Turned out the officers I’d flagged down on the street had done a contact card on the guy a short time earlier and had a good idea where to find him. All the officers I dealt with were very considerate. When I followed up with the detective, he told me there had been a string of 14 similar incidents in a 2 week span prior to mine, and they stopped immediately when the suspect in my case was arrested. I went to court. The guy spent a few months in jail. The armed robbery pattern in that neighborhood stopped.

    The big picture point is that s&*t can happen anywhere, no matter how nice the neighborhood is. If we stay aware of our surroundings and try to stay clear of suspicious looking situations, that can help us avoid many incidents, but that’s not a perfect solution. Your incident and mine speak to that reality.

    I can’t believe that people would put their houses on the market due to a handful of incidents. The detective on my case told me that it’s not uncommon for robbers and burglars to follow a pattern for a while and eventually get caught, ending that particular string of crimes in that area.

    I’ve suggested more than once that it would be good both for community building and public safety to have citizen walking and biking patrol groups at random times on random nights of the week (to make their presence unpredictable to criminals). We did this when I lived in Rogers Park, and reported suspicious activity by calling 311 or flagging down passing squad cars. It worked.

    Too many folks in the neighborhood fall victim to the fortress mentality – going around only by car and staying in their houses a lot because they feel the neighborhood is unsafe. They don’t realize that they’re making the problem worse.

    There have been many studies proving that areas where more people are walking, biking and outside in yard and on porches (“more eyes on the streets”) are SAFER for everyone. Potential witnesses deter criminals. There’s nothing magical about that. When fewer people walk to the train and more people drive, we are all less safe.

    I’d be willing to be part of a bike patrol. How about you and other folks you know?

  20. Steve English
    June 19, 2014 at 10:11 am

    Glad you are physically okay. As a resident and business owner in Beverly I appreciate you speaking out. I agree crime has become “accepted” in our world and that thinking is unacceptable. Again thank you for your words.

  21. V. Batista
    June 19, 2014 at 10:15 am

    We moved from Beverly due to the changes that occurred not just in our immediate area, but as well as Mt Greenview, etc. I don’t blame one group of people for crime any more than I blame one for the cause of World War II. But I chose to remove my family from a proximity to a demographic overwhelmingly likely to perpetrate said crimes. In this case, an impoverished area that was too close for comfort. Who lives there matters less to me than the realities of what happens there.

  22. Sara
    June 19, 2014 at 10:38 am

    I’m sorry, but when did Beverly become some sort of safe haven in the city of Chicago? Unless my geography is wrong, Beverly is next to Roseland and Evergreen Park where a lot of violent crime is happening daily. As a life-long Chicagoan and someone who has visited Beverly frequently I would not consider it particularly safe.

    If instead we’re calling Beverly a “nice” neighborhood where the homes are well-tended and people are middle or upper class then I would agree that it’s a nice neighborhood, but that certainly doesn’t exempt it from crime. Robbers seek out “nice” neighborhoods to rob because there is better, more expensive stuff there. It makes economic sense.

    I completely get and agree with the author’s point that crime in Chicago is out of control, but the idea that having the best burger or ice cream in your neighborhood makes it too “safe” or “nice” for crime to happen there is ludicrous. Until we can control guns and reduce gangs and poverty in this city then everyone is just as likely to experience crime. Crime in a nice neighborhood shouldn’t have to be your wake up call.

    • Diana
      June 19, 2014 at 10:55 am

      Thank you for this comment. I totally agree.

    • Scott Smith
      June 19, 2014 at 10:58 am

      Sara: This is my larger point. We all like to pretend that if something happens on the other side of the street, it doesn’t affect us. It does.

      A lack of resources everywhere in the city affects everyone.

      • Anne
        June 19, 2014 at 12:25 pm

        Well said. A lack of resources is ultimately everyone’s problem.

    • Erin
      June 19, 2014 at 12:52 pm

      Sara – Go back and read the piece again. Scott’s entire point is that no neighborhood – no matter how many people deem it “nice” or “safe” – is exempt from feeling the effects of crime in Chicago.

    • Russ
      June 19, 2014 at 1:09 pm

      Sara, I would encourage you to re-read the article in light of Scott’s response to your comment. Yes, he describes Beverly as a “safe neighborhood” (and while you can argue with the semantics, from a statistical standpoint it IS one of the safest neighborhoods in Chicago: http://www.neighborhoodscout.com/il/chicago/crime/), but he also preceded that by saying that being a victim of a crime felt inevitable DESPITE living in a “safe” neighborhood. I can tell you first-hand that Scott was aware crimes like this happen in Beverly, because I was robbed nearby in almost identical fashion last year and Scott and I discussed it quite a bit. I applaud Scott for talking about his experience so publicly (I was much more reluctant to do so) and I hope after re-reading it you can take away something more substantial than “this moron thinks there’s no crime in Beverly because Rainbow Cone is awesome.”

    • MRM
      June 19, 2014 at 2:25 pm

      Sara, you obviously are not from the surrounding area. To compare Roseland to Evergreen Park as “violent crime” area is absurd. Thanks for visiting Western Ave on occasion.

  23. Anonymous
    June 19, 2014 at 10:45 am

    What a scary experience and I’m glad that you are ok!

    I agree with you Scott. Our house was robbed a few years ago, and we didn’t decide to just up and move because of it (like the neighbors in your story). What did we do? I decided we need a neighborhood watch group. I got the interested neighbors together and we met with the police. It kind of fell off after that due to my work but I intend to get it going back again. The biggest resource the police have is their community, from the horses mouth since they do not have eyes everywhere (as much as we expect them to but don’t want them to). You can’t sit there and see someone/something suspicious, do nothing and then whine when something happens that you did nothing to prevent (aka call the cops). I’m glad you are choosing to stay and fight. If we all run from the crime that happens then I guess some people will no longer have a place to run to.

    When I worked in drug counseling, I had a patient and his brother who were commenting on the gang violence and the innocent bystander victims (little kids). They used to be gang members way back when and stated that while yes they were gang members, there were “rules” they abided by. When shooting your issue is with the other gang member, you waited for all non gang members (women, kids, elderly, etc) to leave before you had your fight. Does that sound humorous that gang members had moral rules and some semblance of respect for human life? Yes, but the point was they had them. Todays gang members (and probably criminals in general) seem to have zero respect for anything except their own lives.

    There is no reason Beverly should cease to remain the awesome neighborhood it is now. People need to stop fleeing and start fighting, as you have chosen to do.

  24. Matt
    June 19, 2014 at 10:48 am

    Sorry to get a bit meta here. To your point about “…they’ll do what they can to survive and use crime as an economic opportunity.” My uncle is a Chicago cop and we talk about social issues from time to time. One recent talk was about statistical manipulation police engage in to show crime being down and how it relates to economic statistics (unemployment stats, economic indicators, etc…) He said something that stuck with me. “I don’t care what the government says in how the economy is doing. I look at the amount of armed robberies, burglaries, break ins. The police cannot doctor those numbers.” As those numbers go up , I know how the Chicago economy is doing.” I thought that was pretty interesting looking at the issue of crime over the past few years in the Beverly, EP, OL area. It appears to me that there has been no recovery for the working class let alone an underclass.

    • Joe
      June 19, 2014 at 11:52 am

      Matt, I don’t like the way you put your comment about the police manipulating data. You’re making it sound as if the beat cop who also lives in the area is fudging numbers. You should have put the blame for this on the POLITICIANS, i.e. the Mayor and the Superintendent (who is a political puppet, NOT a policeman). The regular cops are the ones who actually care about real crime because we live here too.

      • Scott Smith
        June 19, 2014 at 11:56 am

        I had five beat cops and a detective in my house yesterday. Every single one of them was kind, professional and doing everything to support me in this. Every. Single. One. Great men and women at the 22.

      • Matt
        June 19, 2014 at 1:02 pm

        Joe, if we are talking about blame, you are absolutely right. Politicians drive the manipulation. My intention was not to place blame on regular police or anyone for that matter. My comment was about the reality that stats lie whether they are crime, education, economic, etc… in nature.. My uncle’s point (the active Chicago cop) is crime stats are suspect specifically because of his experience and that there are certain parameters like muggings that can’t be downgraded to make it look like crime is down.

  25. June 19, 2014 at 11:35 am

    Scott, I am so glad to hear you are safe! But from one bleeding heart liberal to the other, I couldn’t agree with you more about providing economic opportunity. I also think it is more than that.

    As a society, we’ve shifted our focus from education to money, from quality to quantity, from having values and doing the work quick solutions.

    I love Chicago and I’m not going anywhere, I am willing to do the work it takes fix it. Maybe making a pledge to civic duty is a good place to start.

  26. Julie
    June 19, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    Scott – So sorry for what happened to you and I am glad you are OK. Material things can be replaced. I live near Beverly and volunteer at amazing Smith Village. I find the area to be beyond lovely. I grew up in the city, on the north side, west of Wrigley. If people have the means to travel, they will and crime will be everywhere. This happens Uptown, Evanston, Belmont & Central and Beverly. I remember when I first moved to the SW suburbs, my husband showed me how to travel through Beverly with all of the dead end streets. It simply doesn’t matter. Neighbors need to band together and stay strong. The thugs cannot compete with a strong neighborhood community. And unfortunately, as this city girl has known her entire life, trust no stranger.

  27. Ryan Cee
    June 19, 2014 at 1:19 pm

    Glad you’re OK! I always hate these situations b/c they tend to bring out the worst in people, with some folks saying Beverly is going down the drain while and they can’t wait to move, while others rabidly defend the area and accuse others of having ulterior (read:racist) motives.

    The bottom line is this: We live in the third largest city in the country, and the 28th largest in the world. Incidents like this happen in EVERY city, in “safe” neighborhoods, to good people. I experienced crime while living in Lincoln Square (had my stuff stolen and also encountered 3 guys beating the cr@p out of a random guy without any provocation). It sucks, but these things happen in major metropolitan areas. In Beverly, they really don’t happen all that frequently, which is good.

  28. Kate Wooddell
    June 19, 2014 at 1:46 pm

    Scott, I’m sorry you had to experience this and wish you strength as you get past it. Thank you, too, for not lionizing the “good guy with a gun” line. As a product of a “nice” Southside Chicago neighborhood, I have to say my first, and so far only, experience at the point of a gun came courtesy of a neighbor when I was a 16y/o girl babysitting my younger siblings. He felt it was important, I guess, to approach our home with his service revolver drawn and let me know, in language I remember verbatim decades later, “I’m a Chicago cop (off-duty), and I’ve killed three n– s for less than this. Now get those boys out here to get that beer can off my garage roof.”

    You might imagine how that charming incident shaped a lifetime of political views for me, about guns and bullies and racists. About macho BS and violence and conflict resolution. About Chicago, the CPD and the Southside in particular. (I got out at my earliest opportunity, only to return for family visits.). The tribalism you speak of was physically red-lined on city maps at the time of my incident, yet it was a same-race neighbor emboldened by his weapon to address something so petty with such aggression. It grieves me to realize how the mentality persists even though those lines are technically illegal. What I learned over the decades, which included a mugging in Evanston, two apartment robberies in Rogers Park- one by a friend of a friend, and much political engagement, has been summed up on my bumper stickers. 1) Peace is our only solution, and 2) If you want peace, work for justice.

  29. Kevin
    June 19, 2014 at 1:58 pm

    Scott, I’m happy to hear you’re alright and that the police have been helpful and responsive. I love Chicago, but there is no such thing as a safe neighborhood. I live on a really nice street in Lincoln Park, just north of the intersection of Clybourn, Sheffield, and Willow. It’s mostly couples in their 30s and 40s with young kids–very neighborhoody, just about everyone knows each other on my block and gets along great. They’re building two beautiful houses at the end of the street, and two more just north of us on the west side of Sheffield. I’ve also had two attempted home invasions in the last four years, both of which ended with me confronting the bad guy. The first guy got away. The cops got the last one, and he and pled out to misdemeanor assault about a month ago. Crazy, right?

    I’m also a bleeding heart liberal. I volunteered for Obama in the 2008 campaign, and am comfortably to the left of virtually everyone I know on almost all issues. I wrote Mark Kirk in April 2013 thanking him for voting in favor of the gun control legislation that went to the Senate floor in the aftermath of Sandy Hook and commending him for being brave enough to break with his party. I also happen to think that Americans’ tolerance for private violence is sickening, believe that the gun show and private sale loophole desperately need to be closed off, and strongly support commonsense legislation prohibiting the sale and possession of assault weapons in cities.

    I’m also now a CCW permit holder. I don’t see any inconsistency in being a good liberal and taking responsibility for my own safety in the event of a life-or-death situation. I just don’t. I very seldom carry–only when work takes me down around 95th St. and thereabouts. I train. I carry with the safety on (obviously) and a snap cap (an inert replica bullet) in the chamber so that the weapon can’t go off if I drop it, and so it can’t be fired immediately (by me or anyone taking it off of me).

    I can also guarantee that if it had been me getting mugged and I was carrying, everything would have gone exactly the same way it did for you. Carrying should absolutely NOT give you a case of “bigmanitis,” and if it does, you absolutely shouldn’t carry. It’s not worth pulling a gun out and confronting your attackers (or worse) over a wallet, bag, and cell phone. It’s really just there for life or death situations, as Chicago can be a violent place in the least likely of places, and the research tends to show that most people who die as the result of gun violence are unarmed and defenseless, and almost always, shooters retreat when confronted with any kind of armed resistance (not even actual shooting, just visible, armed resistance).

    Just putting that out there. I think owning the means to defend myself is a necessary evil. It’s also a tremendous responsibility having that much destructive power at your disposal, which kind of grosses me out. I’m certainly not here to try and sell anybody on it. It’s a personal decision, and it’s up to each and every individual to decide whether there is any benefit in it or whether it’s too objectionable.

    It doesn’t stop there, either. I also get to know the cops in my beat and treat them respectfully. However you may feel about them, most are trying to make the city a better place, and they wear a uniform and do a difficult, dangerous job (with lousy weapons compared to what the bad guys can get for cheap, I should add). I’m also active in my CAPS meeting, and go as often as I can, am friendly with my alderman and a familiar face in his office, and trade information with him and his staff frequently.

    Just a few ideas for things you could do to help feel a bit safer in your neighborhood. Obviously, even if you did take the very serious, sobering step of becoming a CCW holder, we’re still not allowed to carry on public transit, and I think the bad guys probably know it.

  30. Bob
    June 19, 2014 at 6:25 pm

    Years ago, there was Fahey Flynn, a Chicago Weather Man who called himself “The Vice Ppresident of Looking Out The Window.” Think about that term in today’s times.
    In my view, every block in the city should have a monthly meeting or gathering. In our case on Bell, every evening, half the block–those with kids it seems–meet at the corner as the workers come home and as those at home during the day, come out to greet them and each of us talks and shares the news of the day. We have come together as a block and we look out for each other and work to help each other.
    This daily contact, and in the case of less organized blocks, the starting now monthly meetings, these gatherings will forge a togetherness that is not now present in Chicago and our suburbs. Today, from work, each of us goes home into our kitchens and dining rooms or bedroom offices to mull over our bills, our kids, our relationships and our duties to our elders or those far-away living family members spread across the world.
    Granted those are an important lot of family and survival and household building responsibilities. And quite a challenge for today’s family of 2014, I should add.
    We must, however, begin to dwell upon and discuss with each other our daily lives outside our homes and in our daily surroundings too, namely our surroundings on our blocks and in our neighborhood.
    Like the Woogams (Wellington-Oakdale Grand area and Marching Society) Parade on Memorial Day each year, “EVERYONE MARCHES, no one watches” is their motto.
    Living in the city, one cannot forget we are living in the city. We are all playing in this game; and no one can sit on the bench so to speak and pretend that every thing is peachy keen all over the yard every single moment.
    So, the monthly meetings on the block must start and each of us can watch out our windows, carry out our trash to the alleys and look around, step to the corner and say hello to a neighbor, step to our front and back doors and walk out onto the sidewalk.
    Everyone can do a little to step up to the window.
    Everyone can appoint himself or herself to be a “VP of Looking Out the Window,” caring for our neighbor,
    What happened to Scott should have been witnessed by ten of his on the block neighbors instantly. This could have been followed again instantly by at least 9 calls to 9-1-1. That is an ideal world wish of course, but block by block meeting, planning and looking around is not only fun, it will help us all.
    As Yogi Berra once said: “You can see a lot by looking.”

  31. David
    June 19, 2014 at 9:43 pm

    I was raised in the city, not near it, not in the chicago-land area but in it. My neighborhood at that time was…a little less than perfect. Gangs, drugs, poverty, prostitution were all distinct memories from my childhood. Now i am not pretending that my neighborhood was the worst or anywhere near it, but it was bad. Like friends parents wouldn’t let them come play in my alley bad. My brother and i finding drug needles in our backyard bad. The list goes on.
    But it has changed, for the better. Despite the many factors that aided in the positive transition of the neighborhood, the blatant catalyst was community awareness and involvement (CAPS program to be specific). It was when the good people in the neighborhood joined forces that there were the resources, motivation and effectiveness to combat the negative elements that plagued us. It took time, but eventually good prevailed. The honest people of the neighborhood made it too unappealing and too difficult for the badness to function and flourish. And now we have a starbucks! :)
    There is bad everywhere, its the sad truth. But the best part about bad is that there is good ( Yin Yang baby). The good must not just stand their ground, but stand their ground together, organized and passionate. Bad prevails because it scares good into their homes and into silence.
    GOOD OF CHICAGO, STAND TOGETHER, FEARLESS AND DETERMINED. TAKE OUR NEIGHBORHOODS BACK!!!!
    Chi-Town for Life!!!!!!!

  32. Scott Smith
    June 19, 2014 at 10:04 pm

    Thanks to everyone who commented above. I’m no longer posting comments on this thread. Many of the unpublished comments are trying to take things in an ugly direction and since I’m paying the cost to be the boss around here, I’m not interested in airing those grievances.

  33. Anne
    June 19, 2014 at 10:08 pm

    Scott, I’m so glad you’re ok!! I take the Metra to & from 107th St. daily. I also walk down 107th to get there & back. This is terrifying, but like you, it doesn’t make me want to move, it makes me want to fight back. To stay involved in my community & be aware of my surroundings. I love this neighborhood, I’ve lived here all my life and I’ll do whatever it takes to make sure it stays safe for my family.

  34. Kat
    June 19, 2014 at 10:37 pm

    I’m also glad that you are safe and that you reacted in the least confrontational manner. It’s not so much about who has the gun is the one who wins. It’s about who has nothing to lose. That’s who will win. Muggings have gotten far more violent and bold in the last decades. There are no easy answers. we do all have to watch for one another. Put down the cell phones while walking, while riding the trains, etc. Pay attention to the environment what happening. Not just for yourself but for us all let’s all look out for one another. Even then, though, this type of crime will exist. When my brother was a teenager, he was sleeping out front of my father’s business in the city. A man came up to him and tried to mug him. I say tried because when my brother opened his wallet in the man saw how little money my brother had, he only took half gave the rest back to my brother before running away. Guns aren’t needed to be scary or to commit a crime. Guns also aren’t always needed to stop a crime or prevent crime. Pay attention to yourself and take care of yourself. You suffered a trauma, and your body may or may not react to this trauma. But, if you do find yourself having nightmares, high blood pressure, shortness of breath, or other things that can come from a traumatic event, get yourself help so that this mugging doesn’t take more than your money and laptop. If you want more info, just ask. I can’t give you back your money your wallet or keys or laptop, but I can educate you about trauma if you need some. Stay strong and stay safe.

  35. Kat
    June 19, 2014 at 10:39 pm

    Sorry, my brother wasn’t sleeping in front of my father’s business, he was sweeping.

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