By Dermot Connolly
Police in Oak Lawn, Palos Heights, Chicago and elsewhere are investigating a string of armed robberies of local Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants that appear to be related.
In all the cases, robbers entered through drive-thru windows in the restaurants. The perpetrators often used vehicles stolen in carjackings also, police said.
The first robbery of this kind in the area occurred at a Dunkin’ Donuts at 10801 S. Cicero Ave. in Oak Lawn on Jan. 7. In that incident, which occurred in the early morning hours, police said one man a man entered the restaurant through the drive thru-window and took the cash drawers from two registers.
Security camera footage showed the man, wearing a mask and dark clothing and carrying a silver handgun, running east and jumping a fence in the 10800 block of Keating Avenue, the block directly east of the restaurant.
The most recent incident occurred in Palos Heights, where police said two males came through the drive-thru window of the Dunkin’ Donuts restaurant at 12807 S. Harlem Ave. at 4:30 a.m. Jan. 19. This was also caught on surveillance cameras, as were others that occurred in Chicago and Summit last week.
Palos Heights Deputy Police Chief Bill Czajkowski said that people in a 4-door silver BMW placed an order then pulled up to the drive-thru window. When the employee opened the window, two male black offenders climbed through and into the store. Both were masked and wearing gloves. One wore blue jeans and a black jacket, while the other wore black and gray clothing, including a hooded sweatshirt. Both offenders were armed with handguns. They dumped out cash registers and took the bills before escaping back through the window.
“It appears that the same crew hit a Dunkin Donuts in Matteson prior to ours and a McDonald’s in Oak Forest after ours,” said Czajkowski.
Police determined that the car used had been stolen in a carjacking in Maywood on Jan 18. It was later found burned in Chicago.
Robberies also occurred in other locations. About 1:44 a.m. Jan. 16, two males wearing masks and gloves and carrying handguns were seen running westbound after robbing the Dunkin Donuts restaurant at 6144 S. Harlem Ave., in Summit.
Then the following day, at 7:19 a.m. Jan. 19, two men climbed through a drive-thru window of the Dunkin’ Donuts a few blocks away, at 5615 S. Harlem Ave. in Chicago’s Garfield Ridge neighborhood. A 15-second surveillance video of that crime released by police showed a male dressed in dark clothing and gloves approaching the drive-thru window. A woman appears to turn toward the window, and then back away when the man climbs headfirst through the window. A second male wearing all dark clothing then follows him through the window.
At a press conference last week to discuss their plans for tackling the spate of carjackings in the city, Chicago police said some of the cars stolen in the city may have been used in the suburban restaurant robberies.
Police said carjackings in Chicago rose about 135 percent in 2020, to 1,415, and have continued to occur at a higher rate than usual this year. Investigators said many of the offenders are young, between 15 and 20 years old.