How Mag Mile Biz Adjusted to Crimes

The recent spate of mob activity along Michigan Avenue's Magnificent Mile has led some small business owners to strategize about how to stay safe.

Beatriz Ronzaro, Cesar Russ Photographic Stories

Ronzaro is the co-owner of Cesar Russ Photographic Stories at 520 North Michigan Ave. Although the flash mob crime hasn't directly effected the gallery, the Michigan Avenue storefront has had its share of electronic theft crimes.

"We've had a laptop and two iPhones stolen off the counter," Ronzaro said. "Now we hide all of our devices more, and we've installed cameras."

Ronzaro said that since the theft and flash mob crimes, they've added security notices around the gallery and keep a closer watch of customers entering and leaving the door.

But Ronzaro expressed concerns over the crime's effect on customer trust.

"It's effecting the clients' confidence and trust," she said. "They can't come in and let their guard down, they have to be more alert. They have to change their behavior when shopping."

Paul Vieraitis, Chicago Sports and Novelty

Vieraitis, the system manager of Chicago Sports and Novelty at 332 North Michigan Avenue # 325, said that the store hasn't had recent theft, but has bulked up their watch over merchandise since the flash mob crimes became popular.

"We always try and have some of our workers stand near the front," Vieraitis said.

However, Vieraitis didn't seem concerned as to the effect of the crime on the amount of customers entering the store.

"I don't think there will be an effect on the volume of people walking on Michigan Avenue," Vieraitis said. "But they're definitely going to be more cautious, inside and outside of stores."

Heather Gust, Arts and Artisans

Gust, gallery assistant of Arts and Artisans at 321 North Michigan Avenue, said the gallery commonly has issues with theft because of the large amount of small jewelry that they sell.

Although the gallery has yet to experience effects of the flash mob crime on Michigan Avenue, Gust said the thefts they've experienced in the past have been among the same age group as the flash mob suspects.

"The ones that commonly steal are very young, between the ages of 9-17," Gust said. "They're usually in large groups trying to distract you."

Gust said the store, which has been in business for 24 years, has an increase in theft during the summer months because they have no guard to stand outside the gallery. As a result, they have heightened their watch over the store since the flash mob incidents.

"For one thing, customers trying to shop in our gallery have to be more distrusting," she said. " But now, as store owners, we not only have to pay attention to what's going on inside our store, but outside our door."

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