Friday, August 17, 2012

There's Plenty of Crime in the Suburbs

By Tim Hadac
Managing Editor
Southwest Chicago Post

The Southwest Chicago Post reports on local crime news so that we Southwest Siders can better arm ourselves with current, relevant information---which all of us can use to better protect ourselves, our property and each other; as well as demand more and better police resources from the politicians we elect to serve us.

One thing we never want to do is unintentionally create unfounded fear among law-abiding men and women on the Southwest Side---some of whom sadly live under the flawed assumption that the burglaries, robberies, assaults and batteries seen on the Southwest Side are virtually non-existent in the burbs.

So let's be clear. There's plenty of crime---including gang crime---in the suburbs.

We Southwest Siders typically don't hear about it because:

** ...the downtown news media have a severely disproportionate focus on city crime. It's sexy. It sells newspapers and helps build big and lucrative audiences for radio and TV newscasts. And when they hammer Chicago's mayor (whoever he or she may be at the time) over crime, it's that much more entertaining, in their view.

** ...the downtown news media generally ignore most suburban crime; partly because it's viewed as too local for their broad audience, and partly because reporters and editors know they'll never win awards and advance their careers by reporting on crime in Westmont or Burbank or Tinley Park or Orland Hills or Mokena.

** ...even if they wanted to report suburban crime, they would be blocked by many (if not most) suburban police departments that hide major crimes from the press (and public) and instead offer reporters (and the public) a meager diet of traffic stops, shoplifting arrests, bicycle thefts and marijuana busts.

** ...a number of smaller, suburban newspapers---being controlled or at least compromised by local politicians---downplay crime and sometimes ignore it entirely.

** ...what little suburban crime that does make the news is not seen by most Southwest Siders, who typically do not read suburban papers.

Those reasons also explain why many suburbanites themselves are unaware of crime---including gang crime---that occurs right in their own backyard. (That plus a little willful ignorance on their part.) So the next time your suburban friends and relatives smugly tell you how wonderful it is where they live (and how you ought to move there), smile and take it with a grain of salt. 

So just this once, here's a tip-of-the-iceberg sampling of suburban crime, gleaned from a respectable news

Tinley Park

** Sometime between 7 p.m. Aug. 8 and 8 a.m. Aug. 9, someone stole a 2003 Cadillac from a driveway in the 18000 block of 66th Court.

** A man living in the 7400 block of West 165th Street reported various damage that has been occurring on his property. He said the majority of the incidents took place between the morning of Aug. 7 and the afternoon of Aug. 8. First, someone removed the circuit breaker for his air conditioning unit, he said. He then discovered that someone had let the air out of the tires on his wife's vehicle. He also said the cable wire to his television had been cut. Neighbors hadn't noticed anything suspicious. The case remained under investigation Aug. 13.

Burr Ridge

** Two people who were charged with promoting prostitution after a bizarre incident at a Burr Ridge hotel in May have reached plea agreements with the DuPage County State's Attorney that include jail time for both offenders, though one is already out.Carlo P. Woolfolk Jr. whose last known address was 1050 N. Knollwood Drive in Schaumburg, agreed to a plea deal on Aug. 14 that included a two-year prison sentence in the Illinois Department of Corrections in exchange for the state's attorney dropping one of the two counts of promoting prostitution, state's attorney spokesman Paul Darrah said.

Downers Grove

** Michael W. Reilly, 37, of the 6400 block of Sandalwood Court in Darien, was arrested around 10:26 p.m. at the Main Street Shell Station, Downers Grove police said.

Reilly approached a man at the Shell station and punched him in the eye, knocking him down, police said. Reilly then repeatedly punched and kicked the man while he was on the ground in the fetal position, police said. The man, who told police he doesn’t know Reilly, said he didn’t do anything to instigate the attack, the report said.

The man had a bump and a half-inch abrasion behind his ear, police said. One of his eyes was bloodshot. Reilly had a one-inch abrasion on his left elbow and a two-by-three-inch abrasion on his back, police said.

Evergreen Park

** Shantae White, 26, of Chicago, was charged with forgery and theft. White was employed as a caregiver for a resident of Evergreen Park. She stole checks from the woman and attempted to cash one of the checks for $300 at a local bank but was stopped because the signature on the check did not match with the bank's records, police said.

La Grange

** A resident of the 900 block of Eighth Avenue told police at about 4:30 a.m. that while leaving for work he noticed several vehicles with their back windows smashed. Police also received a similar call on the 800 block of Seventh Avenue that windows at the La Grange Bible Church were smashed on the north side and east side of the building around 4:43 a.m.

** Police were called to assist the Western Springs Police Department after a window was smashed with a bat on the 4000 block of Franklin Avenue at 5:17 a.m.

Oak Lawn

** A carnival worker and his girlfriend have been accused of sending sexually explicit photos and text messages to a 16-year-old high school student.

James West, 25, of Evergreen Park, and his girlfriend, Lauren Papiez, 20, of Oak Lawn were charged with one count each of indecent solicitation of a child, a Class 2 felony punishable by up to seven years in prison.

West was taken into custody at the Oak Lawn Community High School's fall carnival, where he was operating rides for Spectacular Midway Amusement.

Police said the girl believes West got her phone number off of Facebook. She also told police her birth date is on her Facebook page and that West knows she is 16.

A teacher at the school discovered the explicit text messages on the student’s phone after the teacher confiscated it when the girl violated the school’s cell phone policy, reports said.

Orland Park

** An Orland Park man is facing three felony charges against him, after he was accused of stealing an 88-year old woman’s purse and car and kicking her in the process.

Peter Sousan, 24, is charged with aggravated vehicular hijacking (Class X felony), aggravated battery (Class 2 felony) and robbery (Class 1 felony).

On July 30, an 88-year-old woman parked her car at Walgreen’s at 80th Avenue and 159th Street, and walked to the store entrance when a white man started running toward her around 2:20 p.m., according to the
Orland Park Police Department. The man grabbed her purse and car keys, kicked the woman in the leg and struck her in the chest with the car door while he got inside, before driving away north on 80th Avenue, police said.

** Police said an inappropriate picture was found on the cell phone of a Park Forest man previously accused of trying to lure two girls into his car.

Law enforcement found child pornography on the cell phone of a man arrested in 2011 for stalking two girls, according to police.

The Orland Park Police Department first arrested 57-year-old James M. Shaver on March 18, 2011 for stalking two girls ages 9 and 11 at the time, according to a release from the police department. Police said that two days prior, he tried to lure the girls into his car while they were walking home from school in the 15200 block of Orlan Brook Drive, and then offered to take them out for a milkshake the next day.

** Cook County Circuit Court Judge Peter Felice was about to set bail Tuesday morning at $500,000 for Homer Glen resident Jonathan Sarolas, 23, who is accused of
carjacking an Orland Park restaurant employee with a BB gun last week.

But considering that Sarolas had been released from state prison just 11 days before the June 25 incident, Felice upped the amount to $700,000 during a bond hearing at Bridgeview Courthouse on Tuesday, July 3.

"So, this is a parole violation?" Felice asked prosecutors. When they confirmed the violation, Felice raised the bail.

Attorneys for Sarolas asked for a "reasonable bond," noting that the Will County man is a high school graduate and has completed "some college" at Lakewood College.

That information didn't help Sarolas,
who was taken into custody by the Orland Park Police Department Friday at a Midlothian Metra station, after eluding capture for days after the incident. He was charged with aggravated vehicular hijacking, a Class X felony.

Sarolas didn't speak during the hearing and towered over his attorney with his 6-foot-5-inch frame. Cuts and bruises discolored his face.

Sarolas' attorney declined comment when questioned about the case.

April Schmidt of Woodriver, who police say was Sarolas' accomplice,
was also charged with aggravated vehicular hijacking. According to reports, the pair fled the parking lot of Red Lobster in Orland Park Monday night, after Sarolas held up an employee with a BB pistol and stole her car and purse.

Sarolas and Schmidt drove south in the stolen car on LaGrange, when police started chasing them. They turned west on 167th Street, and turned again onto Liberty Circle where they hit a dead end, as officers followed. Schmidt was picked up near the car and Sarolas ran from police.

And check out the spread of street gangs into the burbs at this list:

An outdated list, for sure, but it makes the point that gangs and gang factions are steadily moving into the burbs and marking turf (and fighting over turf).

The lesson to be learned for all of us on the Southwest Side? You can't successfully run away from crime by running to the suburbs.

The solution to crime in our neighborhoods is as close as our own mirrors. We have the ability to stand together against criminals, to stand shoulder to shoulder as we absolutely refuse to accept criminal activity and refuse to accept anything less than clean, safe neighborhoods in which to live, work, play, study, worship, shop, and more. Neighborhoods where we can raise our families and grow old in peace and comfort. Neighborhoods where "the good old days" are now---because we made it that way by working together.

Gangbangers and other punks have no chance against a community of strong, smart men and women united against them and for each other. It's a contest of wills. A contest we can certainly win.

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