CHICAGO (CBS) – The owner of a clothing store in the Near West part of the city can’t break in – they’ve been burglarized five times in the last two years.
The latest theft at the Flee Club consignment store, at 2221 W. Taylor St. in Tri-Taylor, just two weeks since the last break-in. The owners have now told CBS 2’s Steven Graves that it’s time to pack up and go.
It’s hard to get hit once for tens of thousands of dollars, but add another heist to that mix and the owners here can’t help but feel targeted and tired.
Sabrian Sledge, co-owner of the Flee Club, said: “It was furious. “We’re sick and tired of these gaurs.”
This time, the thieves had at least two crowbars – and they used them like golf clubs to break windows. A break-in at around 6 a.m. Friday didn’t happen over seconds but minutes, as thieves repeatedly kicked in the security hatch.
“We’re broken now, you know?” Darris Kelly, co-owner of The Flee Club.
Thieves ripped off luxury designer clothing on shelves at the Flee Club. A man carefully crammed it all into a white sport utility vehicle sitting on West Taylor Road.
“It’s the same, the same, the regular happening,” says Sledge. “We have to get out of Chicago.”
Owners Sabrian Sledge and Darris Kelly had thought about leaving the store in the Near West before then. Exactly two weeks ago, another crew even stole shoes from downstairs – for $40,000 in damages.
The Flee Club has also been attacked three other times in the past two years. Several incidents occurred at their other previous location on the West Side.
Kelly said the Flee Club’s insurance company dropped them because of the crime.
“We don’t even want to reopen,” Kelly said. “It’s over for us.”
“This is not the way to live,” Sledge added.
Sledge said this latest theft cost them $70,000. Of the 1,857 reports of retail theft citywide this year, a small Black-owned store like Flee Club bore the brunt.
“We need help. Why would we do it together – when you’re homegrown like us?” Sledge said. “This hurts us.”
“We give out free gifts for Christmas. We give out free turkeys for Thanksgiving,” Kelly added. “I guess we haven’t done enough.”
And now, a business that grew out of a love of clothes and community is preparing to pack up and strongly consider moving to a whole new city together.
Chicago police are not detaining anyone for this latest heist. They believe at least five people were involved.