For the past 14 years, Maria Aguilar has woken up bright and early to sell tamales and champurrado — a Mexican chocolate-based drink for people starting their day in Little Village.

On Thursday morning, Aguilar, 50, was helping a customer at her usual spot near 26th Street and Homan Avenue when she saw a white car pull up speeding.

Four people got down from the car and approached him with guns drawn. One of them pointed a gun at her head and demanded cash, she said. He took $75 from Aguilar and $200 from his client.

“I feel very scared now, and I am very scared,” Aguilar said. “I don’t even want to go out and sell sometimes, but I’ve got bills to pay, rent to pay.”

Aguilar joined other street vendors, activists and residents at the 10th District Police Station on Thursday afternoon to demand that the department provide more resources to protect the vendors. They say three other street vendors in the area were robbed at the same time and have been increasingly targeted in recent months.

Police said the robbers who attacked Aguilar were driving a four-door sedan and were between 17 and 19 years old. No arrest has been reported.

Baltazar Enriquez, president of the Little Village Community Council, said the council has raised the issue with police in the past. He wants more officers from other areas of the city to be on early morning duty on 26th Street to prevent robberies.

“When the Mag Mile hits, they take our resources, our police officers, and send them that way,” Enriquez said. “So when this happens in our neighborhood why don’t we do the same?”

Twenty-sixth street in Little Village is an important economic center for the city and neighborhood. There are several independent storefronts and restaurants within 2 miles.

Enriquez said he worries that robbers will start targeting those businesses if he doesn’t see an increase in police presence. “We don’t have anything within two miles but businesses, so it’s really hurting our community.”

Enriquez said the 10th District commander has agreed to meet with the community on Friday afternoon.

According to data kept by the Chicago Police, robberies in the 10th Police District, including Little Village, are up 13% in 2022 from the previous year.

A CPD spokesperson said in a statement that in response to recent robberies of street vendors, the department has provided “special attention and visibility” to affected areas.

“The Chicago Police Department is committed to strengthening safety for our residents and street vendors throughout the city, including our Little Village community,” the spokesperson said. “We will continue to adjust resources as needed to work to combat these crimes.”

Aguilar, a mother of four, said she wants to feel safe outside working again.

“When a customer gets in line, I fear they might be robbed,” Aguilar said. “I just ask for more security because we have no way to defend ourselves.”



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