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Chicago sneakerhead store closes after being robbed a 5th time in 2 years


Last weekend, we told you about the Flee Club, an apparel store in Chicago that had been robbed four times in two years, and that made it impossible for the owners to buy store insurance. But just hours after we interviewed the owners, Flee Club got robbed again.

DARRIS KELLY: It was usually around, like, 3 in the morning, but this time, it was, like, 5:50 a.m. I got an alert from my ADT system, I looked at my cameras, and my clothing racks turned over. People running around in my shop. It's just a bad thing every time I see it.

SIMON: Darris Kelly runs the store with his longtime friend Sabrian Sledge. Security footage shows a team of thieves breaking through glass and metal shutters, then loading up an SUV with armfuls of jeans, designer jackets and high-end sneakers. Mr. Kelly estimates they took close to $70,000. Flee Club stayed open after the previous four robberies. Not this time.

KELLY: Oh, it's closed. It's closed, yeah. It's just too much.

SIMON: He says the last few years have been rough in his hometown.

KELLY: It's been something like I haven't seen, you know? And it's just been a different Chicago. All the break-ins, all the carjackings, all the robberies - they seem like people are just living lawless.

SIMON: Chicago Police Department says murders are down compared to last year, but burglaries, robberies, theft and car theft have all increased a lot. No merchandise has been recovered, and Darris Kelly says he doesn't know of anyone who's been arrested for any of the break-ins at his store. He'd like to see more police on the streets and tougher penalties for thieves who get caught. For now...

KELLY: I'm really at a standstill. I don't really know what to do. I'm processing things I need, and I'm trying to get my money together. I just probably want to leave Chicago, go to a different city, try to start over. I put a lot into my business, so I know it's not going to happen overnight, but I just - I don't think I can deal with this. It's getting to my psyche.

SIMON: He's raising money on a GoFundMe page and thinks he might move south, maybe to Texas, open a new store there.

KELLY: You know, I love what I do. I love getting people their shoes, getting people fly, getting people their nice clothing, stuff like that. It's just kind of hard right now. Just determining my next move.

SIMON: Darris Kelly, co-owner of Chicago's Flee Club, which is now closed.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.