Authorities in Chicago are probing after thieves targeting high-end retailers recently used smoke bombs and flashbangs to steal more than $60,000 worth of goods from Neiman Marcus, Sears and the GameStop store on State Street.
Store managers say the thieves broke in through a broken window and used smoke bombs to set fire to electronics in the GameStop store. They then set off flashbangs, which caused thousands of dollars worth of damage.
GameStop released a statement to Fox26, reporting “Officers arrived and rescued the employees from the back area and also assisted the GameStop store with taking total control of the situation.”
According to Chicago police, they are investigating the incidents.
Police say Chicago police have targeted an older house in connection with the weekend theft, but have not yet determined if it is connected to the GameStop robbery.
No arrests have been made in connection with the game store incident.
This is the third time in less than a year that Chicago has experienced a high-end retail theft scheme using smoke bombs. In January, after a similar incident at a Macy’s Bloomingdale’s in the Loop, police arrested two teenagers who allegedly stole several Apple iPhones, an iPad, and an iPod over three days.
Friday’s incident is the latest in a string of vandalism incidents at prominent Chicago retailers that are part of a protest outside a group of Democratic donors at Rittenhouse Square who invested in Chicago’s failed bid to host the 2016 Olympic Games.
Fox26 reports that a large number of people were outside Neiman Marcus on State Street protesting the Olympics bid, and a protestor allegedly threw an object inside that exploded.
The Chicago Sun-Times obtained a statement from Neiman Marcus, saying they could not comment on individual incidents.
“For security reasons, it’s our policy not to comment on every incident that occurs in our stores, but we have a dedicated team that looks into all security incidents regardless of the nature or the timing,” the statement read.
On the street outside the Neiman Marcus store, many protesters voiced disappointment in protesters who broke into the store. They saw the protest as a way to smear the efforts of the real protesters, who are people like themselves.
“The ones that come in are all radical anarchists, and this is all them,” said Nathalie Kelly. “We’re part of the bourgeoisie.”
Protesters have set up a massive tent outside of Rittenhouse Square in order to increase visibility. The Occupy Chicago group has organized the protest with a little help from David R. Martin, the Philadelphia developer who lost out on the Games.
Many of the protesters complained that the company behind the Olympics, International Olympic Committee, lost too much money on the 2016 bidding and the Chicago bid.
Police in Chicago have not said whether they have received any information about possible copycat attacks by Occupy Chicago supporters.
The Chicago Tribune reported that protesters say they will continue to march in front of the property of President Barack Obama’s home as part of the “Rittenhouse Square Protest.”
Fox26’s Katie Vara contributed to this report.