CHICAGO (CBS) — The latest solution to Chicago’s skyrocketing shoplifting problem has four legs and a tail.
As CBS 2’s Tara Molina reported, a gun-sniffing dog already found a firearm on somebody at the Neiman Marcus store on Michigan Avenue. Molina got in contact with a local security company providing those same services – where they say with the growing crime problem, the arrest at Neiman Marcus has their phone ringing off the hook.
Boss the Labrador is inclined to go after a tennis ball like any other dog. But with hundreds of hours of training behind his K-9 unit harness, he’s capable of a whole lot more.
In one demonstration, Boss signaled quickly to focus in on exactly where a gun was placed in a backpack one of his trainers carries.
“We know firsthand that K-9 is the biggest deterrent out there – period,” said Tim Clancy.
Clancy leads Action K-9 Security – and also leads more than 70 trained dogs, like Boss. In business for more than 30 years, the company works with the city and has security contracts with Chicago institutions like McCormick Place and Navy Pier.
But the calls they’re getting now are from retailers and other private businesses.
“We are overwhelmed with business,” Clancy said. “We’re getting calls one after another because of one dog incident.”
In the one dog incident to which he was referring, 24-year-old Derrick Latham was arrested earlier this month just outside Neiman Marcus at 737 N. Michigan Ave. on the Magnificent Mile.
Latham, of the Englewood neighborhood, was arrested at 2:18 p.m. April 4. An arrest report said officers were met by Neiman Marcus staff – who said they had been keeping an eye on Latham after their K-9 unit found a gun on him.
Staff told police that security cameras had caught Latham stealing a Ferragamo belt, which he stuffed in his jacket pocket, as well as two buckles, which he suffered in his rear jean pocket.
Altogether, the items are worth $995 before taxes, the police report said. Two security guards and a K-9 unit detained Latham on the sidewalk, and one of the guards recovered a loaded Taurus handgun model G2C 9mm from his front waistband.
Security also found prop money amounting to 15 fake $100 bills, seven loose 9mm rounds, and five white pills believed to be Xanax.
Latham is now charged with aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, retail theft and possession of a controlled substance.
A spokesperson for the department store issued this statement:
“Neiman Marcus is committed to providing a safe and enjoyable in-store experience for our associates and customers. To reinforce our commitment, we are investing in additional security measures in select stores. In addition to Neiman’s full-time in-store security team, we are now working with a private security firm and its K-9 unit for weapons detection.”
The firm with the K-9 unit for which Neiman Marcus is working is not a local one; it’s based out-of-state. But the calls received by Action K-9 Security – which is 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 for a while in the Macy’s that has since left the Water Tower Place.
Now, he said, “There’s a big trend here about how to protect your stores so you don’t leave Chicago.”
Action K-9 Security could be part of continued ramped up private security efforts we’re tracking across the city, with crime continuing to spike.
We found with retail theft up 145 percent in the Near North Side community area, which includes the Magnificent Mile – with more than 330 cases. That makes the Near North community area the hardest-hit area of the city.
“We’re bringing something more to the table to deter anyone – including up to three, four, or five individuals from coming in and smash and grab,” Clancy said.
Clancy said Action K-9 Security is working on plans now where they could have teams work in multiple stores in one day.