Chicago man busted selling $2,700 sweater stolen by looters to undercover cops: report

Chicago store owner plans to sue city after business is looted twice

A convenience store owner in Chicago’s central business district has been looted twice since May and said police took more than ’25 minuets’ to answer his call, allowing looters to break in and destroy his business.

A Chicago man was charged with theft after allegedly trying to sell undercover police officers a $2,700 sweater looted from an upscale boutique when caravans of people ransacked high-end stores in the city’s commercial districts over a week ago.

Melvin Banks, 29, allegedly posted an ad for the sweater on the mobile marketplace OfferUp. An employee at the Brunello Cucinelli boutique on Rush Street, near Chicago’s Gold Coast district, noticed the sweater online and alerted the Chicago Police Department, Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy said. It was priced at $2,700 and was stolen by looters who broke in on Aug. 10.

Detectives then used the app to speak with Banks and agreed to purchase the sweater for $800. Banks was arrested by officers who met him at a strip mall near North and Western avenues Monday night, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.


“I don’t know how a $2,000 sweater feels, but it must be immaculate, and feels very, very soft, I’m certain. But that’s a little too rich for my blood,” Cook County Judge John Lyke Jr. said after Banks' court hearing on Wednesday.

Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, Gold Coast, and Irving North neighborhoods and neighboring commercial districts were targeted by “car caravans” of people who ransacked high-end stores, such as Saks Fifth Avenue and a Tesla dealership, the night of Aug. 9 into the morning of Aug. 10, Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown said at a press conference after the violence subsided.

The Brunello Cucinelli boutique alone sustained $1 million in damages from the looting.

A woman was also charged on Tuesday for allegedly stealing a pair of $1,400 boots from the same boutique and trying to sell them online for $1,100 to undercover police officers.

A door to the Block 37 retail building is shattered Monday, Aug. 10, 2020, after vandals struck overnight in Chicago’s famed Loop. Chicago’s police commissioner says more than 100 people were arrested following a night of looting and unrest that left several officers injured and caused damage in the city’s upscale Magnificent Mile shopping district and other parts of the city. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

It was unclear how Banks obtained the stolen sweater. He allegedly told police he was asleep at home the night looting gripped the city and that his girlfriend gave him the sweater for free. The girlfriend’s story conflicted, and she allegedly told police the couple was out of town and her cousin had gifted her the sweater, according to the Times.

Portions of Chicago’s downtown were overrun by looters the night of Aug. 9 after police and a 20-year-old suspect exchanged gunfire on the South Side earlier that afternoon. Police said in a statement that officers responded to calls about a man with a gun and confronted someone matching the description in an alley.

He took off running and fired at officers. Officers returned fire and struck the man, who was taken to the hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening. The 20-year-old, later identified as Latrell Allen, was charged with two counts of attempted murder and unlawful possession of a weapon.

After the shooting, South Side residents confronted police in the neighborhood, and a rumor spread online falsely claimed officers had shot an unarmed 15-year-old boy. As anger grew, social media posts directed crowds to loot and vandalize stores downtown.


More than 100 people were arrested on charges of disorderly conduct, looting, and battery against the police. Two people were shot and 13 officers were injured, Fox 32 Chicago reported. Police released photos taken from security camera footage of others seen breaking into high-end stores in an effort to make additional arrests.

Fox News' Stephanie Pagones contributed to this report. 

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