Lifeguard, valet thwart iPhone robberies on Near North Side

Tribune reporter

Five people have been charged after three separate iPhone robberies Saturday, two of which occurred at Oak Street Beach during the Air and Water Show, police said.

One robbery, which was thwarted by a Chicago Park District lifeguard, happened about 4:25 p.m. Saturday during the Air and Water Show. The victim, a 48-year-old Lyons man, had been robbed near Oak Street Beach in the 1000 block of North Lake Shore Drive, police said.

Officers were flagged down by citizens who told them there was a fight in the underground tunnel leading to and from Oak Street Beach. The fight involved a 20-year-old lifeguard and the man suspected in the iPhone theft, police said.

The victim and his wife identified the suspect as the person who took the iPhone and 25-year-old Darrell Griffin, of the 17200 block of South Greenwood Avenue in South Holland, was arrested about ten minutes later, police said. Griffin was held in lieu of $175,000 bail Sunday after being charged with one count of felony robbery, authorities said. No injuries were reported.

About 2 p.m. Saturday at the Oak Street Beach at the Air and Water Show, a 27-year-old Far South Side man told police he'd momentarily left his white iPhone 4S and its black case under his backpack on his blanket at Oak Street Beach when another man, 21 and from Chicago Heights, saw three boys take it, police said.

The Chicago Heights man flagged down officers and told them he saw the trio walking on the beach going through people's belongings, police said. When officers questioned the boys, one of them had a white iPhone 4S in his pocket. He told police that he "doesn't need to steal, my mother has rolls of money," but could not provide the number to the phone, according to a police report. When the victim called his stolen iPhone, police who were with the teens answered it and the boys -- two 14-year-olds and a 15-year-old -- were taken into custody and cited in juvenile petitions with one count of theft each, police said.

The third theft was foiled by a valet from a North Rush Street restaurant who chased down the suspect  after he'd snatched an iPhone 5 worth about $600 from a 39-year-old Morton Grove man about 12:50 p.m. on a sidewalk in the 0-100 block of East Superior Street, police said.

Garland Smith, 30, of the 7400 block of South Morgan Street, allegedly fled west on Superior Street but was taken into custody about five minutes later. When police took Smith to the Near North District police station to be processed, he told police that he planned to sell the stolen iPhone and had stolen it because "It was an easy lick," according to a police report.

In court Sunday, the judge set bail at $25,000 for Smith, who was charged with felony theft.

Tribune reporter Geoff Ziezulewicz contributed to this report. | Twitter: @RosemarySobol1


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