Story by 89 WLS Editor Matt Lo Cascio
It looks to be a hard sell, but the Guardian Angels have come up with a new moniker for Chicago's Magnificent Mile. They'd like to rename the iconic stretch of shops on North Michigan Avenue to something a bit more raw.
"We want to rename it 'Mugger's Mile,' because unfortunately, it has become a personal ATM for criminals," said Miguel Fuentes, national director of the Guardian Angels.
Fuentes, who also servers as the leader of the Chicago chapter of the Angels, joined John Kass and Lauren Cohn Tuesday on 89 WLS and said the group is alerting people, handing out safety tips and maintaining a presence on Michigan Avenue.
"We're going to be focusing patrols in that area, and of course, coming off the Red Line, whether it's the Chicago stop or the Grand Avenue stop and just having a presence out here."
When Kass pointed out that both Mayor Emanuel and the merchants in the area wouldn't be too happy with the 'Mugger's Mile' rebranding, Fuentes said it's all about the safety of the people.
"It is what it is. We're out there, we're on the street, we're trying to make sure people aren't victimized," Fuentes said.
Fuentes said that cell phones are currently the primary target for thieves, so he advises that people put them away whenever possible. He also recommends that everyone with a smart phone install a tracking app.
His top tip to prevent a mugging is for people to take their headphones off to increase awareness.
"Put the cell phones away, put the map away, hide your camera -- those are the main tips," Fuentes said.
Fuentes also tweeted out the safety tips the Guardian Angels were handing out on the Mag Mile.
Earlier this month, the Guardian Angels were instrumental in helping police find a man that was accused of raping a woman at a bus stop near Ukranian Village. They handed out surveillence photos of the suspect and were active in trying to secure leads from citizens. They received information and passed it on to police.
The suspect was caught and charged with aggravated criminal sexual assault, kidnapping and aggravated robbery.
Fuentes said that getting information to police is exactly what citizens on the Mag Mile should do.
"If you see something suspicious, call the police. And also if you witness a crime."
Listen to John Kass and Lauren Cohn's full interview with Miguel Fuentes: