Demand for K-9 units detecting firearms in retail stores skyrockets after Mag Mile Neiman Marcus arrest

By Tara Molina

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Chicago, Ill. (WBBM) – 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 once found a gun on someone at the Neiman Marcus store on Michigan Avenue. Molina got in touch with a local security firm providing those same services – where they say with the growing crime problem, the arrest at Neiman Marcus has his phone ringing.

Boss the Labrador tends to chase 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 so much more.

During a demonstration, Boss quickly signaled to focus on the exact spot where a gun was placed in a backpack carried by one of his trainers.

“We know first-hand that the K-9 is the greatest deterrent – period,” said Tim Clancy.

Clancy runs Action K-9 Security – and also runs over 70 trained dogs, like Boss. In business for over 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’re overwhelmed with business,” Clancy said. “We are getting call after call because of an incident with a dog.”

In the dog incident he was referring to, 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 Englewood, was arrested at 2:18 p.m. on April 4. An arrest report says officers were met by Neiman Marcus staff – who said they were monitoring Latham after their K-9 unit found a weapon on him. .

Staff told police security cameras caught Latham stealing a Ferragamo belt, which he stuffed in his jacket pocket, along with two buckles, which he sustained in the back pocket of his his jeans.

In total, the items are worth $995 before taxes, according to the police report. Two security guards and a K-9 unit detained Latham on the sidewalk, and one of the guards retrieved a loaded Taurus Model G2C 9mm handgun from his front belt.

Security also found incidental money amounting to 15 counterfeit $100 bills, seven 9mm bulk cartridges 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 released 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 certain stores. In addition to Neiman’s full-time in-store security team, we now work with a private security company and their K-9 unit for weapons detection.

The company with the K-9 unit that Neiman Marcus works for is not local; he is based out of state. But the calls received by Action K-9 Security – which is a local company based on the West Side of the city – are for services they have not provided in the past.

Clancy said Action K-9 Security worked for a time at Macy’s which has since moved out of Water Tower Place.

Now, he says, “there’s a big trend here about how to protect your stores so you don’t leave Chicago.”

The K-9 Security action could be part of the intensified and continued private security efforts we are monitoring across the city as crime continues to rise.

We found retail theft increased by 145% in the Near North Side community area, which includes the Magnificent Mile – with over 330 cases. This makes the Near North Community Area the hardest hit area in the city.

“We’re bringing something extra to the table to deter anyone — including up to three, four, or five people from coming in and stomping and grabbing,” Clancy said.

Clancy said Action K-9 Security is currently working on plans where they could have crews working at multiple stores in one day.

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