|A selection of being offered for sale by a street vendor near Pride Fest. | File|
At least 35 people lost phones and other valuables to pickpockets during Pride Fest weekend in Boystown on June 22nd and 23rd, according to Chicago police and information on the city’s data portal. Records show that twenty-seven of the thefts took place inside the festival grounds during operating hours. Sixteen of the thefts took place between 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday alone.
Another four pickpocket thefts were reported between 1 a.m. and 3:30 a.m. Sunday inside bars on the 3300 and 3400 blocks of North Halsted, the heart of Boystown’s nightlife district.
Two people have been charged in connection with disputes that arose from accusations of phone theft at the festival, but no one has been charged with actually stealing any property at the event.
Word of widespread phone thefts began to emerge while the festival was still underway. One Lakeview resident told a neighborhood chat group that he stopped into a local phone store and saw several people getting new phones after theirs were stolen at Pride Fest.
Other reports from the festival said that a ring of thieves was placing stolen phones in their crotch areas. At least one suspected thief then claimed that private security guards had touched them inappropriately while searching for a stolen device. Companions of the alleged thief recorded the purported “abuse” on their phones as part of the ruse.
However, two people did wind up getting arrested in connection with separate disputes that arose over missing cellphones at Pride Fest on Sunday evening, Chicago police said. Neither person has been charged with theft, though.
|Renteria | CPD|
At 7:15 p.m. on June 23rd, police detained Saivreus Renteria at the Center on Halsted after a 27-year-old woman said she noticed her phone was missing after she danced with him at the festival, a police spokesperson said.
Renteria, 26, did not have the phone in his possession and the woman never saw him with it, “but she told police she was sure that he was responsible for the theft,” the spokesperson said. Nonetheless, there was no evidence to support the woman’s claim and Renteria has been charged with battery for slapping the woman on her buttocks “three or four times,” apparently while dancing. Renteria was released on his own recognizance and is due back in court on July 19th.
Police were called back to the Center on Halsted at 7:55 p.m. the same night to meet with a 22-year-old woman who said she had been threatened after confronting a woman about a missing phone. The woman told police that 21-year-old Taneyah Williams-Kirkland of Indianapolis got face-to-face with her and said she was going to “kick your ass” when they get outside. Williams-Kirkland is charged with assault and has been released on her own recognizance until her next court date on Aug. 15. The Chicago Police Department was unable to provide Williams-Kirkland’s mugshot.
The last reported pickpocket incident at the festival was at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, according to the city data portal.