String of early-morning burglaries prompts police warning

Purses, wallet, backpacks removed from kitchen counters as residents slept

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By Jean Lotus

Forest Park Review Editor

Oak Park police warned residents Nov. 13 to secure window and door locks after a series of overnight burglaries that took place during the early morning hours in single family homes in the 800 blocks of South Kenilworth and Clinton Avenues and in the 100 and 200 blocks of South Elmwood and Scoville Avenues.

"Our investigation has determined that the burglar entered through either a window or door in the rear of the property to take items nearby such as purses on kitchen counters," Police Chief Rick C. Tanksley said.

Burglaries occurring overnight Nov. 6-7 in the 200 block of South Elmwood Avenue and 100 block of South Scoville Avenue and Nov. 12-13 in the 800 blocks of Kenilworth and Clinton followed similar pattern. In most cases, burglars entered homes between midnight and 6 a.m. when residents were asleep. Opening unlocked kitchen windows or back doors, burglars removed purses, wallets and backpacks left in plain sight on kitchen counters and tables, police said.

The first incidents happened overnight Nov. 6-7. In the 200 block of South Scoville Avenue, a purse, briefcase, backpacks containing graphing calculators and laptops were removed by someone who entered through an unlocked window. Someone took a purse and wallet containing credit cards and cash from a house in the 100 block of South Scoville Avenue via an unlocked back door. A garage was also burglarized. Using a pry tool, someone broke a rear door in the 100 block of South Scoville Avenue and removed a purse, credit cards and cell phone. Via an unlocked window, someone entered a house in the 100 block of North Elmwood, and removed a suitcase and duffle bag.

A second wave occurred in the 800 blocks of Clinton and South Kenilworth Avenues overnight Nov. 11-12. Thieves entered unlocked rear doors, unlocked kitchen windows and removed screens. Removed were purses, sunglasses and wallets from kitchen counters.

That night someone also pried open a rear door of a house in the 300 block of South Clinton Avenue and removed a wallet from the kitchen counter.

Police are beefing up patrols in the areas and analyzing crime incidents to predict where the next hot spot will be.

Police say that while the thief apparently has not gone far into the homes entered, this type of crime creates a potentially dangerous situation.

"If you hear or see anything unusual call the police immediately," Tanksley said. "Any delay in calling is time the police could use to respond and apprehend the offender."

The police offered the following tips to make your home less of a target for burglars:

Don't leave items of value visible from the exterior of the home – especially from the rear door and kitchen area.

Ensure that all doors and windows are locked and that the locks are functioning properly.

Use window pegs or screws so that windows cannot be moved passed a certain point from the exterior.

Install motion detector lights for the rear of your home to illuminate entryways.

Don't leave items such as ladders, stools or lawn furniture adjacent to or near exterior windows.

Anyone with questions or who would like police to conduct a security survey at their home is urged to call 708.386.3800 or email police@oak-park.us.

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