Men in Dresses Steal Purses from Upscale Shop

Authorities say they believe same men have hit several merchants in recent weeks

Three men wearing women's clothes hit an upscale store in Chicago's fashionable Oak Street shopping district on Tuesday, and the store manager says it's not the first time.

In fact, nearly a half dozen Oak Street merchants, including Jimmy Choo, Moncler and Barneys, have been hit, mostly in broad daylight.

In Tuesday's heist, an employee of Furla says she knew something was up almost immediately after the trio of cross-dressers walked into the store.

"The first time they came they were casing the store for a long time," Deborah Himmel explained.

Then two weeks ago the bandits in drag were back -- briefly -- and made off with a bunch of purses.

"They were not even in here 10 seconds," said Himmel. "It happens so fast you don't have time to react."

Police said the burglaries are connected by the a similar M.O. and suspect description: two to three black men all wearing female clothing. One of the men is stocky. Only one does the talking, police said, while the others remain silent, casing the store before they hit and escape toward Michigan Avenue with their loot.

Himmel said the bandits use a bag from Forever 21 to carry their goods. She said the "leader" stands about 5 feet, 7 inches tall and is very thin and has long, straight hair.

"Today it was in a headband. Last time in a little ski cap," she said.

But Himmel said the men don't wear high heels.

"You can't run in heels," she said.

Furla store managers say they haven't had a problem in their roughly six years of business. A surveillance system ordered prior to the string of robberies is scheduled to be installed Wednesday.

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