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Bucktown, Wicker Park residents on alert

Friday, February 17, 2012

Guardian Angels are offering help and practical advice for residents of Chicago's Wicker Park and Bucktown neighborhoods.

A flower shop employee was stabbed during a robbery Thursday, the latest of a growing number of recent incidents that seem to be growing in frequency and in violence.

"What's happening is that the criminals are using Wicker Park and Bucktown as their personal ATM," said Guardian Angel National Director Miguel Fuentes.

Members of the Guardian Angels passed out fliers Friday morning at Wicker Park's Damen-Milwaukee el stop. They are hoping to arm people with information about how to better protect themselves after a rash of violent robberies in the area.

"First of all, be careful of your surroundings, take the earphones off, stop text messaging, get off the phone and be careful of your valuables," Fuentes said.

More than a dozen strong-arm robberies have taken place in the Wicker Park-Bucktown-Logan Square neighborhoods in the last couple months.

The latest happened Thursday morning when a 28-year-old female employee was stabbed as she struggled with her attacker during a robbery at Asrai Garden flower shop in the 1900-block of West North Avenue. She is now out of the hospital, recovering at home.

"I think there has been an uptick in this kind of serious crime over the last year, and I've lived here about 16 years, so this is not good," said resident John Curry.

Last week, an employee of a Subway sandwich shop in the 1100-block of North Western Avenue was shot and killed during a robbery. Police are still searching for the shooter whose image was captured on a security camera.

Earlier this month, surveillance video showed another robber grabbing a woman's purse and knocking her down outside Penny's Noodles in Wicker Park. Police believe that, since December, that man has struck 13 times on the Northwest Side.

"It really does bother me because it's never been like this in the area before, since I have lived here for three years," said resident Kim Coady. "It has definitely made me take a step back and thing about things a little more."

Police are looking at security video in Thursday's incident at the flower shop for any clues that might lead them to the suspect.

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