By Tim Hadac
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 suburbs.
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, here's a tip-of-the-iceberg, recent sampling of suburban crime, gleaned from a respectable news source---Patch.com.
Oak Lawn---A 57-year-old patient’s purse was stolen while she was getting a CAT scan at Advocate Christ Medical Center. Oak Lawn police said the patient had left her room for the procedure around 9:00 a.m. November 13. Before she left, she placed her purse inside the drawer of the bedside table. When she returned from the test around noon, she noticed her purse was missing. The patient called a nurse to tell her what happened. As she and the nurse were talking, an Advocate public safety officer came in the room to say he had found the patient’s purse in a restroom near the elevators on another floor. Police said the patient went through her purse and found her debit and credit cards and two rings to be missing. The nurse told the patient to file a police report with the Oak Lawn police. The hospital public safety officer told the patient he’d be back the next day to file a report. As the patient was on the phone canceling her credit cards, her bank called to say that her debit card had been used at the Bedford Park Target and several other stores. The hospital also had no record of a public safety officer visiting a patient, nor was the purse theft reported to security.
Oak Lawn---Car part thieves swiped catalytic converters from two cars on Cicero Avenue. The owner of a 2001 Jeep Cherokee discovered that someone removed the catalytic converter around 3:22 p.m. on Nov. 3. A second theft was discovered at 10:40 a.m. the next day on the 9700 block of South Cicero Ave.
Oak Lawn---Police found gang graffiti, possibly from the Latin Kings, written in black marker on the toadstools at Wolfe Park at 5190 W. 107th St. around 4:30 p.m.. There were two five-point crowns drawn on the playground equipment.
Oak Lawn--A possible prowler was reported trying to enter a home on the 10000 block of South Kostner Avenue around 3:47 a.m. The homeowner was awake listening to music when she heard the front door knob rattle as if someone were trying to open it. She looked out her bedroom window and saw a man, later identified as Fabian Lopez, 20, of Tinley Park, walking from the front door toward the backyard. The homeowner alerted her husband who said he heard the rear storm door open. He opened the back door and asked Lopez what he was doing. The husband told police that Lopez appeared to be highly intoxicated, reports said. Police said that Lopez walked away without saying anything. The alleged prowler continued walking northbound on Kostner, and then began to jog eastbound on 99th Street. Police caught up Lopez and detained him. The husband positively identified him as the person lurking around their house, reports said. Lopez was charged with criminal trespassing.
Frankfort---Between Nov. 1 and Nov. 6, unknown persons removed two snowplows from the property of Lincoln-Way East High School on the 200 block of W. Colorado Avenue in Frankfort. Each snowplow was 8 feet by 10 feet wide and weighed about 900 pounds. The loss value totaled approximately $20,000.
Tinley Park---A purse with $45 in cash, a check book and various credit cards was taken from a 2004 Dodge Caravan parked in the parking lot of Woman's Workout World, 16015 Harlem Ave., according to a police report. When the owner called the bank to cancel her debit card, she was told $640.93 had been taken from her account and used at the Home Depot in Frankfort, the report stated.
Tinley Park---A Garmin GPS, an I-PASS tollway transponder, cell phone charger and a digital camera were taken from an 2007 Ford Explorer parked in a residential driveway in the 17900 block of 66th Avenue, according to a police report. The SUV was parked in the driveway from the evening of Nov. 4 to the morning of Nov. 5, and the passenger door lock was damaged, the report stated.
Orland Park---The case against a 28-year-old Orland Park man charged with felony possession of child pornography after police said they found the images on his computer is moving forward, with the arraigment set for Dec. 4. Eric Holt appeared briefly in Judge Peter Felice's Markham courtroom Tuesday. He is out on $100,000 bond on the charges and is also on electronic monitoring. Holt was arrested in October after child pornography was found a computer belonging to him, according to Orland Park Police Commander John Keating.
Mokena---Criminal defacement of property was discovered at 9:24 a.m. Thursday, November 8 on the 9400 block of Enterprise Drive. Unknown persons spray-painted a building with graffiti, including symbols and phrases, some of which were explicit. The Will County Sheriff’s Department recently dealt with a similar occurrence in the same neighborhood.
Mokena---A Mokena woman residing on the 10500 block of Camden Court reported at 7:38 p.m. Wednesday, November 7 that she was a victim of identity theft. The woman stated that unknown persons had opened numerous credit cards in her name and made multiple purchases without her permission for a total amount of $5,790.23. She reported that the transactions took place in Willowbrook, Conroe and Houston TX. All purchases occurred between Oct. 26 and Oct. 31, but the woman didn’t become aware of what happened until several days later. She was able to cancel all the cards. The woman also told police that the offenders set up an account in her name with JPMorgan Chase in April and made regular payments on it until recently. Four accounts were opened without her permission.
Burr Ridge---A resident from the 1200 block of Kenmare Drive reported the theft of two rings worth a combined $4,600 from a locked jewelry box that was in a closet of the resident's home.
Burr Ridge---A resident from the 0-100 block of Waterside Place reported that items including one earring and several rare coins worth a combined $2,000 were stolen from a bedroom in the home.
Clarendon Hills---A resident from the 200 block of Woodstock Avenue reported at 11:44 a.m. that two of three boxes delivered to his home by UPS were missing. UPS confirmed that three boxes were delivered, but police said the complainant reported receiving only one. There are no suspects.
Clarendon Hills---A $5,000 home generator was stolen from the backyard of a house in the 300 block of 56th Street. The resident discovered the missing generator. Its gas and power lines had been cut. There are no suspects.
Hinsdale---An iPhone and iPad worth a combined $1,300 were stolen during a residential burglary in the 500 block of west Chicago Avenue between 8:15 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. Friday, a time frame during which the home was empty and its doors were unlocked according to the Hinsdale Police Department.
Hinsdale---Robert R. Rybka, 22, of the 300 block of Radcliffe Way, Hinsdale, was arrested at 9 a.m. and charged with possession of stolen property after police say he attempted to sell at a Westmont sports resale shop a set of golf clubs that had been stolen from an unlocked garage in the 100 block of North Washington Street between 7 p.m. Sept. 26 and 10 a.m. Sept. 27.
La Grange---A 17-year-old La Grange boy was arrested and charged (as an adult) with robbery, manufacture and delivery of a controlled substance (two counts), manufacture and delivery of cannabis, possession of drug paraphernalia and resisting arrest after police said he attempted an aggravated mugging of a juvenile victim in Gordon Park at around 4:12 p.m. According to police, the victim was walking through the park when two males attacked him. The teens stole the victim’s backpack and belongings, the report said. The 17-year-old boy was apprehended leaving the scene. Police have not filed charges against the second person.
La Grange---Criminal damage to property was reported at 8:50 a.m. at St. John’s Lutheran Church on the 500 block of South Park Road. The church’s tin organ tubes were damaged to the tune of more than $2,000.
La Grange---A complainant reported at 4:25 p.m. that her black satchel, which included her car keys, wallet and other miscellaneous items, had been left unattended in a classroom at Lyons Township High School North Campus between 3:00 p.m. and 3:15 p.m. and stolen. The value of the satchel was not estimated.
Palos Heights---Two Chicago men believed to a part of a gang-related string of suburban burglaries, including at least three in Palos Heights, were charged Thursday. Tyrone Hughes, 22, of the 4100 block of South Prairie and Christopher J. Carter, 20, of the 600 block of block of West Vermont are charged with possession of stolen property. Additional charges of residential burglary and unlawful use of a weapon are pending, police said. The two men are suspected in Palos Heights burglaries from Sept. 13 and Oct. 1, said Palos Heights Detective Tim Holder. Investigators believe Gangster Disciples based in the Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood are operating a type of ruse burglary operation in the suburbs. Burglars drive around in white pickup truck with lawnmowers. They then knock on the front door of a home and offer to cut the grass if anyone answers. Otherwise, they break into the house. “In one case, they started to cut the grass even though no one was home,” Holder said.
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.