Friday, March 26, 2021

Burglars Hitting West Lawn Garages

By Tim Hadac
Managing Editor
Southwest Chicago Post

Looks like garage burglars are hitting the east end of West

CPD released a community alert at 5:16 p.m. Friday, March 26 that noted that several garages have been hit at different times:

• 3700 block of West 69th Street on March 4.
• 3800 block of West 68th Place on March 16.
• 3600 block of West Marquette Road on March 23.
• 3700 block of West Marquette Road on March 23.

Those with useful information to share about the crimes are asked to call CPD Area 1 detectives at (312) 747-8382 and refer to crime pattern P21-1-039.

In the wake of the crimes, police offer this advice:
 Keep the perimeter of your property well-lit.
 Report suspicious activity immediately.
 Keep doors and windows secured.
 Immediately repair any broken windows, doors or locks.
 If video surveillance is available, save a copy of the incident for detectives.
 Make an agreement with your neighbors to watch each other's homes for suspicious activity.
 If you are a victim, do not touch anything. Call police immediately.
 If approached by a witness to the incident, request contact information.

Coyotes More Active in Spring; Guard Your Small Pets, County Officials Say

News from the Cook County Department of Animal and Rabies Control, released March 26:

There have been recent sightings of coyotes around Cook

County. The County’s Department of Animal and Rabies Control (ARC) reminds residents that coyote mating and whelping season lasts through May. During this time, coyotes are establishing territories and dens to whelp their pups. Until weaning, coyotes are more visible and more aggressive. ARC offers the following tips to prevent tragic encounters between coyote and cats or small dogs:

In areas near heavily wooded parts of Cook County, studies have found that cats can be a substantial part of coyote’s diet. This time of year, it’s essential to keep your cats indoors, especially at night.

Small dogs are also a food source as well as a perceived threat to coyotes looking after their own pups. This time of year, small dogs should be supervised at all times in the backyard, especially after dark. Barking may also attract coyotes so it’s important to stay alert.

Switch up your routine. Coyotes are smart and can learn your schedule. If you always let Fido out or take him for a walk at a certain time, coyotes will learn that and be ready at that time.

Feral cats should be fed during daylight hours and food should never be left out. That can be a welcome invitation for coyotes.

Walk dogs on a short leash and always be aware of your surroundings.

Bird feeders attract small mammals looking for food that may have fallen from the feeder. Raking and removing the bird feed from the ground will keep small mammals and coyote from being attracted.

Most coyotes are naturally very shy of human contact, but if you encounter a coyote on a walk make yourself very big and loud to scare it away. Carrying and using a whistle, bell or horn can help scare them away as well. You can also jump around and bang on garbage cans or whatever is nearby.

The population of coyotes roughly doubles in Cook County during mating and whelping season. By the end of summer, disease and other events brings the population back to its normal size of approximately 2,000.

“The coyote in our area have learned to adapt living closely to people in both the County and the City of Chicago,” said Dr. Tom Wake, administrator of the Cook County Department of Animal and Rabies Control. “If we do our part in allowing them to remain wild they will be a minimal nuisance to us and our pets.”

For more information about the County’s Department of Animal and Rabies Control, please visit:

Young People in Chicago Should Apply Now for Thousands of Summer Jobs

Just released by City Hall on Friday, March 26:

Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and the Chicago Department of Family
and Support Services (DFSS) today announced the launch of the 2021 One Summer Chicago (OSC) application. OSC 2021 will run from July 5 to August 13 and will include remote and socially-distanced, in-person job and life-skills training for youth ages 14 to 24. The application deadline is Friday, June 11 at Over 21,000 slots are available.  
“One Summer Chicago is one of the greatest youth-serving programs in our city, supporting tens of thousands of our young people every year through opportunities to pursue to their passions,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “We are excited to continue our Youth Service Corps program this year as youth have stepped up throughout the pandemic committing their time and talent to strengthening Chicago’s communities.”  
For Summer 2021, young people will be compensated for participating in career exploration opportunities in fields such as coding and tech, healthcare, media and more. Returning this year under the OSC portfolio include the Chicago Youth Service Corps (CYSC), Everyone Can Code, Photography for All programs and more.  
“Despite facing unprecedented circumstances last summer, OSC youth were determined to flourish and focus on their future,” said DFSS Acting Commissioner Brandie Knazze. “From coding to photography to pandemic response, we remain dedicated to ensuring that every young person in the city has the opportunity to earn, learn and make a lasting impact on their community.”  
CYSC participants are dedicated to the core values of strengthening communities through civic leadership, working together to broaden impact, continuous learning, valuing youth-led advocacy and public service, and creating safe environments that celebrate diversity. Nearly 2,000 youth participated in the CYSC inaugural 2020 cohort with 83% of participants reported feeling that they made a lasting impact in the community.  
The Citi Foundation is continuing to support OSC for its eighth year in a row, with funding that has totaled over $7 million. The Summer Jobs Connect program, spearheaded by the Citi Foundation and the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund, supports young adults seeking summer employment and provides safe and appropriate banking products, services and education. Citi Foundation is also the largest private funder of the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP), a citywide program designed to employ out of school youth.  
“A summer job is a critical building block in helping youth develop employment and leadership skills, understand how to manage their first paychecks, and lay the foundation for a strong financial future,” said Brandee McHale, Head of Citi Community Investing and Development, President of the Citi Foundation. “Building on the success of OSC’s remote program last year, the Citi Foundation looks forward to connecting more young people with meaningful job opportunities this summer and helping contribute to Chicago’s COVID-19 economic recovery efforts.”  
One Summer Chicago is an integral part of “My CHI. My Future.”(MCMF), Mayor Lightfoot’s signature youth-focused initiative designed to connect youth across Chicago to meaningful out-of-school experiences. The MCMF family, inclusive of One Summer Chicago, the Chicago Youth Service Corps and more than 200 community-based organizations, is focused on strengthening the opportunity ecosystem in Chicago and galvanizing caring adults, all over the city, to ensure that every young person is connected to a meaningful opportunity.  
Last summer, OSC was the largest youth summer employment program in the nation with remote programming enacted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. OSC partner agencies hosted online professional development cohorts intended to offer in-depth insight, resources and guidance for young people interested in pursuing careers in the host company’s field. More information on OSC is available at  


Friday, March 19, 2021

Robbery Spree Over, Feds Say

Charge 2 with hitting pawn shops, currency exchanges

By Tim Hadac
Managing Editor
Southwest Chicago Post

Federal law enforcement authorities are saying that a six-
month-long crime spree has come to end, now that two men—one a Southwest Sider—have been indicted by a federal grand jury.

Falandis T. Russell, 25, who in recent years lived in the 4500 block of South Lamon; and Terrance Williams, 24, of the 600 block of East 100th Street, are accused of conspiring to rob several pawn shops, currency exchanges and other retail stores in the city and the suburbs.

Falandis Russell
Three of the businesses are located on the Southwest Side. Two are in adjacent suburbs. 

The robbers wore masks and brandished weapons in 12 heists from July 2020 to January 2021, according to an indictment returned earlier this month in U.S. District Court in Chicago. The robbers stole jewelry valued at more than $305,000, as well as more than $22,000 in cash, the indictment states. 

Terrance Williams
Russell is in custody at the Metropolitan Correctional Center. He pleaded not guilty at his arraignment. Williams was released on bond. 

The indictment identifies the 12 robberies authorities say were carried out as part of a conspiracy:

• July 31, 2020: Russell and others allegedly robbed Cash America, located in the 1800 block of River Oaks Drive, Calumet City. 

• Aug. 10, 2020: Russell and others allegedly robbed EZ Pawn, located in the 6100 block of South Archer Road, Summit. 

• Aug. 10, 2020: Russell and others allegedly robbed Cash America, located in the 4500 block of South Cicero. 

• Aug. 28, 2020: Russell and Williams allegedly robbed Midwest Title & Loan, located in the 8300 block of South Cicero, Burbank. 

• Aug. 28, 2020: Russell and Williams robbed Cash America, located in the 6300 block of South Kedzie. 

• Sept. 25, 2020: Russell, Williams and others allegedly robbed Helzberg Diamonds, located in the 600 block of East Boughton Road, Bolingbrook. 

• Oct. 13, 2020: Russell, Williams and others allegedly robbed EZ Pawn, located in the 300 block of West Rollins Road, Round Lake Beach. 

• Oct. 21, 2020: Russell and Williams allegedly robbed EZ Pawn, located in the 4800 block of South Ashland. 

• Nov. 6, 2020: Russell, Williams and others allegedly robbed Cash America, located in the 3200 block of West Lawrence. 

• Dec. 16, 2020: Russell, Williams and others allegedly robbed Cash America, located in the 6800 block of Indianapolis Boulevard, Hammond, Ind. 

• Jan. 19, 2021: Russell and others allegedly robbed EZ Pawn, located in the 900 block of East Irving Park Road, Streamwood. 

• Jan. 22, 2021: Russell and Williams allegedly robbed EZ Pawn, located in the 1700 block of West Algonquin Road, Arlington Heights. 
The indictment was announced by John R. Lausch Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and Emmerson Buie Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Office of the FBI. Assistance was provided by police departments in Chicago, Calumet City, Summit, Burbank, Bolingbrook, Round Lake Beach, Hammond (Ind.), Streamwood and Arlington Heights.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew J. McCrobie. 

“The charges in this significant case are the result of the strong partnership between federal, state, and local law enforcement in the Chicago area,” said Lausch.  “We will continue working together to hold violent offenders accountable.” 

“The defendants are accused of a multi-state, violent crime spree with 12 armed robberies in almost as many communities,” said Buie. “The public should feel safer when doing business at local establishments, and we hope they feel secure knowing that justice is being done.”

Federal authorities released the photo above, saying that Russell posted it to Facebook. They claimed it shows proceeds from the robberies that Russell is accused of.

The Story Behind Those New Little Free Libraries in Clearing and Garfield Ridge

By Joan Hadac
Editor & Publisher
Southwest Chicago Post

In recent weeks, you may have seen what are called Little Free
Libraries popping up like daffodils on the front lawns of several homes in Clearing and Garfield Ridge.

These cute little book cabinets were built, installed and donated as a community service by Geno Randazzo of All Exterior Contractors, in partnership with the Garfield Ridge Chamber of Commerce and others.

Geno and crew have been busy beavers on this project. In fact, Geno has built, installed and donated a total of eight Little Free Libraries in Clearing and Garfield Ridge.

Each has been painted and decorated with a unique flair (by the
homeowner) and is stocked with books (often children’s books) that may be borrowed at no charge. Just show up, browse and take what you want.

You can find these fun Little Free Libraries at 5644 S. Narragansett, 6128 S. Massasoit, 6141 S. Nagle, 5736 S. Neva, 5312 S. Newland, 5157 S. Sayre, 5152 S. Menard and 5660 W. 55th Street (in front of Midway Storage).

Credit also must go to Garfield Ridge resident Vanessa Sepcot, who approached Geno Randazzo and Garfield Ridge Chamber of Commerce President Mary Ellen Brown about launching the project. Vanessa says she wanted to "give the kids something to look forward to and make sure they had easy/free access to reading even if they were not participating in in-person school."

Each unit has its own Little Free Library serial number, so visitors to will be able to locate it.

Little Free Library is a non-profit corporation designed to build
community, inspire readers and expand book access for all through a global network of volunteer-led libraries. To date, there are more than 90,000 Little Free Libraries in 91 countries, distributing literally millions of books every year.

It all started with a son’s love for his mother.

In 2009, Todd Bol mounted a wooden container, designed to look like a one-room schoolhouse, on a post on his lawn in Hudson, Wisc. and filled it with books as a tribute to his mother, June, a book lover and school teacher who had recently died.

As a mom—and a grandma—I like that story.

Here’s something else I like: a local business owner, Geno Randazzo, donating his time, experience, expertise and money to make these eight new Little Free Libraries a reality. Thanks, Geno. Once again, you and your company, All Exterior Contractors, are setting an outstanding example for all other businesses to follow.