Crime-fighting strategy goes after problem businesses

November 26, 2012

(WBEZ/Adriana Cardona-Maguigad)

The City of Chicago said its new crime-fighting strategy has helped close 34 problem businesses due to healthy and safety concerns.

The businesses were cited with criminal activities like selling alcohol or tobacco to minors or allowing gang activity.

In April, the city created a task force of city departments including the Chicago Police Department and the Department of Buildings.

According to city officials, the task force has identified problem buildings. Among the closed businesses were seven liquor stores that remain closed under a Department of Buildings order today.

Sam Ali owns a cell phone shop on the city’s South Side. He said when the city closed down Phoenix Food & Liquors, a nearby liquor store, his business improved.

“So it frees up the area more and allows customers to shop around, feel free to do their shopping without having to worry about seeing people standing out in front of a place and scaring them into going to an establishment,” Ali said.

Lieutenant Cynthia Lance said the police department has flagged over 300 businesses in the last seven months.

“We haven’t inspected all 300 hundred, we just started in the spring,” Lance said. “We are making our way through this list of 300 or so properties.”

She said so far, the police department has inspected about 90. The task force also schedules weekly inspections in certain parts of the city in collaboration with police.

Residents can report a problem business by calling 311 or contacting their district police office. They can also contact the Troubled Business Unit by calling 312-745-6231 or by sending an e-mail to troubledbuildings@chicagopolice.org.