Posted on February 9, 2024

Chicagoland Criminals Expanding Enterprises by Training Migrants for Suburban Crime Sprees: Expert

Emma Colton, Fox News, February 6, 2024

Criminal enterprises in the Chicago area are benefiting from the migrant crisis as they recruit illegal immigrants to carry out crimes with little legal repercussions, a former Illinois police chief says.

“The frustration with this migrant crime is really, I think, going to boil over,” retired Riverside Police Chief Tom Weitzel told Fox News Digital in a Zoom interview Monday. “You can pull up any article and see that some of these migrants are being arrested three and four and five times, over and over again, and released to commit more crime. …  It’s not an exaggeration to say that it’s a revolving door. And the police officers are saying, ‘Just forget it. Why bother? Why bother even making the arrest?’”

Chicago and its surrounding areas have been the target of repeated migrant crimes, including quiet suburban malls seeing groups of people who illegally entered the U.S. ripping off department stores such as Macy’s.

Since August 2022, Chicago has seen an estimated 35,000 migrants flood the city after they illegally crossed the southern border in Texas, which bussed or flew them north.

Weitzel served as police chief of Riverside, a suburban village in Cook County located about five miles outside Chicago, from 2008 to 2021, when he retired. He served in law enforcement for 37 years, which included him being ambushed and shot in the line of duty in 1987 by Chicago criminals.

The former police chief said that before the migrant crisis exploded in northern cities, Chicago was already dealing with 2020’s crime wave that seeped into suburban towns.

“Individuals from the city, gang members, and even gang enterprises, would send individuals out to the suburbs to commit crimes at the suburban malls or residential areas for burglaries. And they would always flee back east to Chicago. That was a pattern that happened every single week,” Weitzel said of crime issues pre-migrant crisis.

Now, the pool of criminals has seemingly expanded as some migrants land in the city and link up with criminals, gangs and criminal businesses that show them the ropes on how and where to commit crime, Weitzel said.


The quiet suburbs have been the site of repeated migrant crimes. Oak Brook, Illinois’ Macy’s location was targeted by six migrants in two separate shoplifting incidents on the same day last month, when the suspects reportedly tried to make off with thousands of dollars in merchandise. In both cases, the migrants were granted pre-trial release after a judge denied the state’s motion to hold them in jail.

“I believe that six felony arrests in one day illustrates that migrant criminal activity is a real problem,” said Oak Brook Police Chief Brian Strockis said at the time. {snip}

Fox News Digital previously reported that between Oct. 23 and Jan. 17, a total of 47 migrants were arrested in Oak Brook, mostly for property-related crimes. Oak Brook is roughly 20 miles from Chicago and is home to about 8,000 people.

“[Criminals are] giving them transportation, directing them to the buses and trains that go out to the suburbs. They’re telling them where these high-end retail stores are in the mall, such as Macy’s or other types of retail businesses that they don’t even know exist,” Weitzel said of how migrants even know to target malls like Oak Brooks’ shopping centers.


Weitzel added that in many cases, migrants try to fight police or flee when caught allegedly committing crimes. He pointed to police reports that often detail a foot or vehicle pursuit before a migrant suspect is arrested.

He also said that such crimes could cripple suburban police departments, which often employ just a dozen officers and are not equipped for an influx of arrests and would become overwhelmed.

Strockis told Fox News Digital that some of the migrant arrests were in relation to the theft of products worth more than $10,000, which he said is a “good indicator that they are part of a larger criminal network.”


Other migrants crossing the border are already affiliated with gangs, Weitzel said, and are helped to cross the border by U.S.-based criminal enterprises.


The criminal organizations aren’t focused just on retail theft but also human trafficking, prostitution and drug running, he said.


In addition to the migrant crisis coming at a time when U.S. cities are working to correct the wildly violent crime trends of 2020 – when murders nationwide increased by nearly 30% compared to the year prior – Illinois police departments are in the midst of navigating a relatively new law that eliminated cash bail.

Starting in September, judges no longer require suspects charged with crimes to post bail in order to leave jail while they await trial. Suspects deemed a threat to the public or those who are likely to flee can still be required to remain in jail.

The elimination of cash bail, which was part of the 2021 criminal justice reform bill called the Safety, Accountability, Fairness and Equity-Today (SAFE-T) Act, was set to take effect in Illinois on Jan. 1, 2023, but it was met with fierce legal pushback from dozens of sheriffs and prosecutors in the state who said the law was unconstitutional, diminished public safety and put law enforcement at risk. Amid legal battles, the Illinois Supreme Court ultimately ruled in July that the elimination of cash bail did not violate the state constitution and allowed the law to proceed.