Retail and supply chain theft is by no means a novel phenomenon. For decades, businesses have fought against theft in various forms. However, the recent upswing in sneaker-related theft has captured both the attention of the media and the anxieties of store owners. Major cities are seeing a resurgence of these crimes, but the Windy City, in particular, has been hit hard.
Just in the past week, ABC 7 Chicago has reported that six separate smash-and-grab robberies targeting sneaker resell stores. The string of incidents began on October 24 when thieves used a Dodge Charger and a pickup truck to shatter the front of Endless Supply. Thousands of dollars worth of sneakers vanished within minutes, including a prized pair of Off-White x Air Jordan 1 High Chicago's. Not even 24 hours later, The Flee Club met a similar fate when an SUV crashed its storefront, resulting in a heist of $100,000 worth of products. The crime wave continued on October 26 as Boneyard Chicago, already victimized twice since 2020, suffered another break-in. In this episode, a stolen Jeep rammed into the store in the early hours of the morning. Finally, Round Two Chicago was hit with a smash-and-grab robbery at 4:30 AM on Halloween. As of this writing, the amount of stolen property has not been accounted for and no suspects are currently being investigated.
Since October 24th, the six resale shops that have been targeted are as follows:
- Endless Supply
- Urban Jungle
- Flee Club
- Unique Chicago
- Round Two Chicago
Yet, these incidents are just the tip of the iceberg. A recent bust in Chicago unveiled a staggering $5 million in stolen goods, a medley of sneakers, tech gadgets, apparel, and more. It's an alarming indicator of the broader trend – theft within the supply chain saw a dramatic surge, up by 63% in the first half of 2023 compared to the same period in 2022.
Chicago is not alone in this battle. In the last year, other cities have been rocked by similar crimes. Memphis saw $200,000 worth of products disappear from a Nike store and a staggering $1.2 million from its train yards in separate incidents. Meanwhile, Los Angeles grappled with a theft so vast it's hard to fathom: $7 million worth of sneakers whisked away by thieves.
These incidents underscore the lucrative nature of the sneaker market and how its rising value is catching the eyes of criminals. With reselling platforms and global demand fueling the sneaker industry's boom, the stakes have never been higher. It's a wake-up call for retailers, the police, and sneakerheads everywhere. The race is on to put safeguards in place, ensuring that the love for sneakers doesn't transform into an avenue for unchecked crime.