At least seven men have been assaulted in a string of Lincoln Park muggings in the last week, but police are reticent to connect the attacks as a pattern.
The most recent incident, when a man fended off the muggers with a bike lock doesn't fit with previous attacks. But police have stepped up patrols in the lakefront neighborhood nonetheless, while officials work to downplay the danger.
"This really is pretty much a safe neighborhood," said Alderman Vi Daley.
The first incidents happened at 2 a.m. Thursday in the 600 block of West Fullerton Avenue; at 2:05 a.m. a second attack occured at the 2100 block of North Stockton Drive; another at 3 a.m. Saturday in the 2000 block of North Cleveland Avenue; and at 3:36 a.m. Saturday in the 300 block of West Webster Avenue, police said.
A fifth single male, who refers to himself only as "John," for fear of retribution, was attacked Monday night. But "John" fended off the assailants after he grabbed his bike lock and started swining. He also tossed his money on the ground.
Three attackers approached a man walking his bicycle near the intersection of West Fullerton and North Cannon. The assailants demanded money, and after keeping the three men at bay with his bike lock the victim threw $137 on the ground and fled the scene, Chicago Police News Affairs Officer David Banks said.
"It was almost like my senses were kind of putting me in line for what was to happen," said the 36-year-old man, who asked not to be identified for fear his attackers might seek retribution told the Chicago Tribune. "This lock was my saving grace, really."
"The victims are all males walking alone," said Sgt. Tim Kusinski of the Area 3 robbery division told the Chicago Sun-Times. "They’re basically surprise attacks. The victims hear footsteps coming up behind them, someone says, 'Hey, where you going?' And as soon as they turn around, the first thing they see is a fist."
Similar attacks have taken place outside of Lincoln Park. A TV sports producer was attacked near his Streeterville home last month, and similar reports have come into NBC 5.
Of the four males who were beaten and robbedover the weekend, one, whose beating was described as particularly “heinous” remains hospitalized. The other three were treated and released.
Police said they've had numerous reports of similar incidents, but so far haven't been able to definitively add any other cases to these four.
Kusinski said the police have stepped up patrols in the DePaul University area and caution pedestrians to walk in groups. "We're doing what we can to find these guys, but we want people to be careful," Kusinski said.