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A television news crew reporting on a string of robberies in Chicago became the criminals’ next target Monday morning.
A Univision Chicago reporter and photographer were robbed at gunpoint by three men in ski masks around 5 a.m. Monday in the city’s West Town neighborhood, the Chicago Tribune reported. The Spanish language network said the thieves mostly took personal items along with a camera.
“We don’t want to make the story about us, because there were other robberies that occurred within that same period,” said Luis Godinez, the vice president of news at Univision Chicago.
The thieves approached them after driving up in a gray sedan and black SUV and demanded money from the journalists before going through their SUV and taking the camera, a backpack, and two bags of equipment, according to Raza Siddiqui, president of the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians Local 41, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. The suspects then fled in the vehicles after stealing the items. Police identified the victims as a 28-year-old man and a 42-year-old man.
The journalists were working on a story about a string of robberies that have affected the West Town neighborhood, but the footage they captured Monday morning never aired since it was taken on a camera that was stolen, Godinez said. No one was injured during the robbery and police have so far not placed anyone in custody for the crime.
“They’re OK,” Godinez said of his employees, adding, “we’re working on it together as a team.”
Earlier this month, another Chicago journalist was assaulted and robbed in the West Town neighborhood while preparing to report on an afternoon update for WLS-TV. That assault and robbery prompted union president Siddiqui to warn people about the threats reporters and photographers face on the streets.
“Our news photographers and reporters provide a very important public service in keeping our community informed,” Siddiqui said, according to the Tribune. “We are committed to making sure that their safety comes first. We have talked to the photographer who was robbed today and he is thankfully safe and in good spirits.”
Chicago saw a spike in crime shortly after electing its new mayor Brandon Johnson in May. Vehicle thefts jumped 153%, aggravated battery was up 17%, and burglary rose 12% in June, according to The Washington Examiner. Johnson is focusing his energy on fighting the rise in vehicle theft by suing car companies Kia and Hyundai, alleging that their vehicles lack the appropriate anti-theft measures, Fox 32 reported.
“The impact of car theft on Chicago residents can be deeply destabilizing, particularly for low- to middle-income workers who have fewer options for getting to work and taking care of their families,” Johnson said. “The failure of Kia and Hyundai to install basic auto-theft prevention technology in these models is sheer negligence, and as a result, a citywide and nationwide crime spree around automobile theft has been unfolding right before our eyes.”