Laptop Theft Caught on Camera at Lakeview Comedy Club

An owner of a popular Chicago theater has made a public plea for help after a bold thief was caught on the venue’s surveillance cameras stealing thousands of dollars’ worth of computers and software.

Jennifer Estlin, owner and executive producer of Annoyance Theater Comedy Club, says she has been in business for more than 25 years in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood but not once has she experienced a violation like the one her cameras caught Saturday.

Around 3:30 p.m. a man in a white t-shirt could be seen on surveillance taking advantage of what he thought was an opportunity to hold up the business in the middle of the afternoon. An intern in a wheelchair was on her way into work at the theater at 851 W. Belmont Ave.and traveling alone when she accidentally left the door unlocked behind her.

“She went into the elevator,” Estlin said. “And while she was going up he darted up the stairs and got to the bar before she got out of the elevator.”

Estlin says the man can then be seen noticing there is no cash at the bar while he frantically searches over the few minutes following.

“Then he hears her coming and darts out of there and goes to the small theater to hide,” Estlin said.

Soon after the man finds his way to the lights after using his cell phone to guide him through the darkness and finds the theater’s two laptops behind the tech booth.

“He goes in there and puts the [laptops] down his pants [before he] beelines out of the building,” Estlin said.

The two laptops are valued at nearly $4,000 with all of the programs and software, but the employees at the theater say what’s on them is worth even more.

“[What’s on those laptops] is the very core of our theater,” Annoyance Theater’s artistic director Mick Napier said.

The theater says they are happy the intern was unharmed but now the girl doesn’t feel safe at work.

They have since increased their security policies. No further details from police have been released regarding the investigation into the incident.

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