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Convicted felon ‘busy little bee’ during his alleged looting spree, judge says

Lee Mitchell, 28, allegedly ransacked seven Near North Side stores in over a two-hour period during the city’s second wave of widespread looting over the summer.

A man sweeps up Aug. 10, 2020, outside Paul Young Fine Jewelers, 34 W. Randolph St., after looting broke out in the Loop overnight.
A man sweeps up Aug. 10, 2020, outside Paul Young Fine Jewelers, 34 W. Randolph St., after looting broke out in the Loop overnight.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

A convicted felon was described by a Cook County judge as a “busy little bee” Monday after prosecutors detailed how he allegedly ransacked seven Near North Side stores in over a two-hour period during the city’s second wave of widespread looting over the summer.

“It appears [Lee] Mitchell was a busy little bee. I was tired just listening to the work he put in,” Judge John Lyke Jr. said of the 28-year-old’s alleged criminal activities in the early morning hours of Aug. 10.

“He put in a lot of work that night allegedly. Wow.”

Mitchell had just been released from the Illinois Department of Corrections less than two weeks before he looted the businesses in the Gold Coast and Ranch Triangle neighborhoods, prosecutors said.

First, at 2:25 a.m. that morning, Mitchell used a hammer to break the storefront window of the IWC Schaffhausen boutique — a luxury Swiss watch store where the least expensive item retails for $4,700, prosecutors said.

Because of the damage Mitchell caused, other looters were able to gain access to the store where Mitchell was caught on surveillance cameras stealing a computer monitor, prosecutors said.

Mitchell also went to the first level of a Gold Coast condominium building at 9 W. Walton St., where he allegedly stole a pile of men’s suits and two small boxes of goods from two separate businesses, Indochino and OVO Chicago. At some point, he also swiped bins full of products from two Gold Coast Walgreens, prosecutors said.

Lee Mitchell
Lee Mitchell
Chicago police mugshot

At Luxury Eyesight, he swiped more than 30 pairs of glasses and helped break a security door at a Verizon store where he snatched several display phones and charging chords, prosecutors said.

Mitchell was arrested Sunday in Englewood after Chicago police identified him by his bicep tattoo spotted in some of the businesses’ surveillance videos, prosecutors said. He was allegedly wearing the same stone-washed denim jacket and jeans on all recovered footage.

Mitchell sold off most of the stolen goods but told police he still had some items, including body wash, at his father’s house, prosecutors said.

Mitchell has five prior felony convictions mostly for drugs, but one was for a 2014 robbery, prosecutors said.

He was recently placed on probation for a retail theft that took place at the Abercrombie & Fitch at Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg. During that incident, Mitchell, a father of two, assaulted an employee, prosecutors said.

Lyke called Mitchell’s background “troubling” and ordered him held on $150,000 bail for the burglary and looting charges. Mitchell was also ordered held without bail for violating probation.

“[He was] just recently released from parole and now he’s looking at going back to the penitentiary,” Lyke said. “If he’s convicted, he’s looking at six to 30 years.”

Mitchell is expected back in court Oct. 21.

The looting that took place in the city the night of Aug. 9 and into the next morning stemmed from rumors after police shot and wounded a 20-year-old man in Englewood.

Weeks before — in late May — looting broke out in downtown and other parts of the city during protests against George Floyd’s killing at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer.