Aldi has closed a store in a crime-ridden neighborhood of Chicago without notice after 13 years and blamed ‘repeated burglaries’.
The supermarket chain closed the store in South Side neighborhood Auburn Gresham on June 12 leaving only a sign that said the shop is ‘permanently closed’ and that the nearest store is three miles away.
Aldi said the store had closed for a number of reasons including ‘repeated burglaries’ and ‘declining sales’ but declined to say why residents were not notified of the decision.
It is not the first time Aldi has abruptly shuttered a store in the city after closing an outlet in Chicago’s West Garfield Park last year.
Chicago has become the latest city to be hit by rampant shoplifting and its Magnificent Mile, the once highly-populated retail destination, is now dotted with empty storefronts as businesses are being driven away by the brazen thieves.
Crime rates across the board in Chicago are already above what they were at this time last year, data from the Chicago Police Department’s data up until June 19 shows.
Burglaries in the Windy City have risen 31 per cent year on year, rising from 2468 to 3235 up until June 19 while thefts have increased 65 per cent from 4712 to 7770 for the year to date.
Observers have pinned some of the blame on Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who backed calls to defund the police in the wake of BLM protests in 2020 before u-turning after a Chicago policewoman was shot dead.
Others have pinned blame on District Attorney Kim Foxx, who was widely accused of meddling in the Jussie Smollett case, after she stopped pursuing shoplifters who steal less than $1,000.
Aldi closed the store in South Side neighborhood Auburn Gresham on June 12 leaving only a sign that said the shop is ‘permanently closed’
A spokesperson for Aldi said in a statement: ‘We’ve made the difficult decision to permanently close our store located at 7627 S. Ashland Avenue in Chicago.
‘The store’s final day of operation was Sunday, June 12.
‘We do not take the closing of this location lightly. Our decision was based on several factors, including repeated burglaries and declining sales.
‘Out of concern for our employees and customers, keeping this store open was no longer a sustainable option.
‘All of our employees have been given the option to continue working at one of our other ALDI locations in the immediate area.’
A series of violent crimes have rocked the city in recent months including a series of repeated burglary attempts on the Bottega Veneta store on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, which was robbed twice in two weeks.
One robber was seen letting his pal into the Italian designer store, scaring a terrified shop assistant in the process, before they began clearing its shelves of luxury leather goods, which retail for up to $6,200.
The thieves had left the scene with luxury merchandise that cost tens of thousands of dollars, exactly 21 days after a prior robbery saw 35 bags lifted on September 20.
Both suspects were seen leaving the store with tens of thousands of dollars worth of purses in hand
The city has been plagued by a string of robberies and a wave of crime in the past few months, as some say that the city’s ‘soft-on-crime’ policies embolden the thieves.
Shoplifting cases grew more common following a December 2016 motion from State’s Attorney Kim Foxx that mandated Chicago prosecutors only issue felony charges for theft of property over $1,000.
Her officer said at the time that the move was meant to shift focus to the driving factors of the crimes instead of low-level offenses. In turn, however, thieves know they can grab armfuls of merchandise without being stopped by store security.
There have been 268 murders in the Windy City so far this year, down by seven per cent compared to last year when there were 289 murder in the same time period.
Sexual assaults are also also down by two per cent from last year, as 895 incidents have been reported this year compared to 912 last year.
Motor vehicle thefts are also up 39 per cent compared to the same time last year, with 5,586 reported in 2022 and 4,033 reported in the same period in 2021.
Shooting incidents, meanwhile, are down 17 per cent from last year – but there have already been a string of deadly shootings, with seven people at an intersection in the city’s South Side in March and three minors killed in January.
The Chicago mayor has come under fire for the way she has dealt with rising crime after she publicly backed the ‘defund the police’ movement and proposed slashing $59million from the CPD budget, or 3.3 per cent, and 600 vacant positions from the department, amid Black Lives Matter protests throughout the summer of 2020.
Lighfoot backtracked in August after police officer Ella French was shot dead while policing a traffic stop.
Her death was the first fatal shooting of a Chicago officer in the line of duty since Lightfoot took office and the first female officer fatally shot on the job there in 33 years.
Following the August killing, Lightfoot unveiled a new plan to ‘refund the police’ which lifted the Chicago Police Department’s annual budget from $1.7billion to $1.9billion.
But about two weeks after the tragedy, over Labor Day weekend, Chicago was swept by another wave of violent crime that saw a four year-old boy die after he was shot twice in the head through a window of his dad’s home while he slept.
Foxx gained notoriety in 2019 when she dropped felony charges against Jussie Smollett, the Empire actor accused of staging a racist, homophobic attack on himself in January 2019.
Despite publicly supporting calls to ‘defund the police’, Chicago Mayor Lightfoot backtracked in August after the death of officer Ella French and proposed a new plan to ‘refund the police’
Police Officer Ella French died after she was shot during a traffic stop in Chicago in August 2021