CHICAGO (CBS) — The latest solution to Chicago’s skyrocketing shoplifting problem has four legs and a tail.
As reported by CBS 2’s Tara Molina, a gun dog has already found a gun on someone at the Neiman Marcus store on Michigan Avenue. Molina got in touch with a local security firm that offers the same services – where they say that with the growing crime problem, the arrest at Neiman Marcus has kept her phone ringing non-stop.
Boss the Labrador has a tendency to hunt for a tennis ball like any other dog. But with hundreds of hours of training behind his K-9 uniform harness, he’s capable of much more.
At one demonstration, Boss was quick to signal to focus on exactly where a gun was stuck in a backpack one of his trainers was carrying.
“We know first hand that K-9 is the biggest deterrent out there – period,” said Tim Clancy.
Clancy runs Action K-9 Security – and also manages more than 70 trained dogs, like Boss. The company has been in business for more than 30 years, working with the city and having security contracts with Chicago institutions such as McCormick Place and Navy Pier.
But the calls they’re getting now are from retailers and other private businesses.
“We’re overwhelmed with the business,” Clancy said. “We’re getting back-to-back calls about a dog incident.”
In the one canine incident he was referring to, 24-year-old Derrick Latham was shot just outside of Neiman Marcus at 737 N. Michigan Ave. earlier this month. arrested on the Magnificent Mile.
Latham, of the Englewood Borough, was arrested at 2:18 p.m. on April 4. An arrest report says officers were hit by Neiman Marcus associates – who said they were keeping an eye on Latham after their K-9 unit found a gun on him.
Employees told police that surveillance cameras caught Latham stealing a Ferragamo belt, which he slipped into his jacket pocket, as well as two buckles, which he suffered in his back jean pocket.
The items are valued at $995 before taxes, the police report said. Two security guards and a K-9 unit pinned Latham to the sidewalk, and one of the guards recovered a loaded Taurus Model G2C 9mm pistol from his front waistband.
Security also found prop money in the amount of 15 counterfeit $100 bills, seven loose 9mm bullets and five white pills believed to be Xanax.
Latham now faces charges of aggravated unlawful use of weapons, retail larceny and possession of a controlled substance.
A spokesman for the department store issued the following statement:
“Neiman Marcus is committed to providing our employees and customers with a safe and enjoyable in-store experience. To reinforce our commitment, we invest in additional security measures in selected stores. In addition to Neiman’s full-time in-store security team, we are now working with a private security firm and their K-9 weapon detection unit.”
The company with the K-9 unit that Neiman Marcus works for is not local; it is based out of state. But the calls coming in to Action K-9 Security — a local firm based on the city’s West Side — are for services they haven’t provided in the past.
Clancy said Action K-9 Security worked at Macy’s for a time, which has since vacated Water Tower Place.
Now he said, “There’s a big trend here for how to protect your businesses so you don’t leave Chicago.”
Action K-9 Security could be part of the ongoing intensified private security effort we are pursuing across the city as crime levels continue to rise.
We found that retail theft in the Near North Side community, which includes the Magnificent Mile, increased 145 percent with more than 330 cases. This makes the Near North community area the hardest hit area of the city.
“We’re bringing something more to the table to keep everyone — including up to three, four or five people — from coming in and smashing and grabbing,” Clancy said.
Clancy said Action K-9 Security is now working on plans where teams could work in multiple stores in a day.