River Forest police warn Lake Street customers of thefts

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By Devin Rose

Staff Reporter

River Forest police are advising residents about a pattern of thefts occurring in businesses along the Lake Street corridor.

Within the last several months, there has been an increased effort to steal women's purses left unattended in shopping carts or at tables in local restaurants, according to a statement from the River Forest Police Department. In some cases, these thefts have occurred while the victim is seated in a restaurant and the purse is on the floor or hanging on the back of a chair. Police have received several vague suspect descriptions but nothing specific can be disseminated.

Police are urging residents to keep personal belongings on their bodies at all times and to never leave belongings unattended.


Someone entered an open garage in the 500 block of South Highland Avenue, the morning of Nov. 12, and removed a grey girl's Giant bicycle. Estimated loss is $400.

Two men in a maroon Cadillac approached a woman at an ATM in the 6000 block of West North Avenue, the afternoon of Nov. 12, and asked if she was interested in buying a laptop computer. The woman had them follow her to the 1400 block of North Austin Boulevard, where she inspected the laptop and decided not to buy it. One offender then grabbed $350 from her hand, got back into the vehicle and fled northbound on Austin to North. Loss is $350.

Someone removed an unattended Apple iPhone and case from a basketball court in the 1100 block of Lake Street, the evening of Nov. 13. Estimated loss is $220.

An unattended Apple iPhone was removed from the washroom sink at McDonald's in the 100 block of Madison Street, the morning of Nov. 14. Estimated loss is $300.

An iPhone with a purple case was removed from a classroom at Oak Park and River Forest High School in the 200 block of North Scoville Avenue between the morning and afternoon of Nov. 13. Estimated loss is $584.

A catalytic converter was removed from a beige Lexus RX330 in the 7000 block of West Roosevelt Road, the afternoon of Nov. 14. Estimated loss is $950.

Someone removed scrap copper metal from the fourth floor of the AT&T building in the 700 block of Lake Street, overnight Nov. 14. Estimated loss is $270.

A 2012 Mazda 2, parked in the south lot of the first block of Erie Court, was removed during the night of Nov. 17. Estimated loss is $14,000.

An unattended purse containing a Verizon phone, $10 in cash and maroon glasses was removed from a church in the first block of Washington Boulevard while the victim cleaned the church, the morning of Nov. 17. Estimated loss is $690.

An unlocked 26-inch blue Raleigh women's bicycle and a 26-inch blue Jamis Dakar men's bicycle were removed from the common area of an apartment in the first block of South Boulevard, overnight Nov. 16. Estimated loss is $1,550.

Someone removed a wallet from inside a purse hanging over the back of a chair at Panera Bread in the 7300 block of Lake Street, the afternoon of Nov. 12. The loss included a $1,600 wallet, $450 in cash, credit cards, a driver's license and personal identification. The credit cards were used to make purchases of more than $1,000 before the loss was discovered.


A maroon and silver girl's Uptown bicycle and a blue men's Magna bicycle were removed from a garage in the 500 block of South East Avenue, the afternoon of Nov. 12. The maroon and silver bike was recovered in the 600 block of Madison Street. Estimated loss is $150.

An unknown person entered a green Jeep Wrangler in the 500 block of Lake Street between the morning and afternoon of Nov. 12 and removed an Alpine car stereo, $5 in cash and a spare tire from the rear of the vehicle. Estimated loss is $555. During the same time period, someone entered a black Jeep Wrangler and removed a car stereo and $5 in cash. Estimated loss is $405.

Someone broke the driver's side window of a silver 2011 Chevy Malibu parked inside a garage in the 1100 block of Lyman Avenue, the night of Nov. 12, and removed a brown leather wallet containing $300 in cash. Estimated loss and damage is $605.

A vehicle inside a garage in the 700 block of Lyman Avenue was entered using a pry-type tool, overnight Nov. 12. The vehicle was ransacked and various items were removed. Estimated loss and damage is $366.

An unknown person entered an unattended work truck parked in the 300 block of North Euclid Street, the morning of Nov. 14, and removed several power tools. Estimated loss is $1,865.

Someone gained entry to an apartment in the 800 block of West Erie Street between the morning and evening of Nov. 14 and removed a Sony television, jewelry box, earrings and shopping bags. Estimated loss is $2,080.

An unknown person gained entry to a locked Nissan Altima in the 200 block of South Oak Park Avenue between the mornings of Nov. 8 and Nov. 15, ransacked the interior and removed $2 in cash. On the same block overnight Nov. 14, someone entered a black Acura Integra, ransacked the interior and removed an iPod and $5.

A 34-year-old Chicago man was arrested for burglary after he was seen removing multiple cellphones from a UPS truck in the 1100 block of Lake Street the morning of Nov. 16.

Someone entered the front porch of a residence in the 600 block of South Harvey Avenue between the afternoon and evening of Nov. 16 and removed a 26-inch men's Rhino bicycle. Estimated loss is $600.

A 2002 Nissan Altima was entered between the night of Nov. 4 and afternoon of Nov. 17 and the ignition and dashboard were damaged when the offender attempted to remove the car stereo. Estimated loss is $450.

A resident of the 8200 block of Lake Street told police someone entered his unlocked garage and removed a Gibson Explorer guitar and a Hartke speaker cabinet. Estimated loss is $500.

Criminal damage to property

Someone damaged two metal bars on the fence in the 200 block of Home Avenue between the morning of Nov. 1 and evening of Nov. 13 by bending them. Estimated damage is $200.


A man in the rear of the 1100 block of South Elmwood Avenue grabbed a woman's arm and removed her purse containing $310 in cash and credit cards from her shoulder. The offender then fled northbound on Elmwood and eastbound on Fillmore. Estimated loss is $480.

These items, obtained from the Oak Park and River Forest police departments, came from reports filed Nov. 13-19 and represent a portion of the incidents to which police responded. Anyone named in these reports has only been charged with a crime and cases have not yet been adjudicated. We report the race of a suspect only when a serious crime has been committed, the suspect is still at large, and police have provided us with a detailed physical description of the suspect as they seek the public's help in making an arrest.

Reader Comments

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Town Center Customer  

Posted: November 30th, 2012 4:08 PM

U_Crack_Me_Up, I will take you up on that bet. I was at Panera today and saw some police arresting two characters right outside. @OP Transplant and Foom, be ready to apologize if I'm right.


Posted: November 30th, 2012 3:42 PM

Mark my words in a couple of weeks or sooner there's gonna be an article here saying workers at Panera Bread arrested for a rash of thefts, then OPP you can hire me as your lead physic dectective with 2 years advance in pay HAHAHAHA LOL


Posted: November 30th, 2012 3:36 PM

OK OK like I said before it's a worker at Panera Bread,Seem like they know the camera angles and when to do this. Trust me I know there's not a criminal just waiting to strike by or in Panera Bread, It's an inside job!!

JP Transplant Too  

Posted: November 30th, 2012 2:14 PM

How do you know that their answer is "tell them not to get robbed?". Do you think they shouldn't have given advice on how not to be a victim? Or give any warning for that matter? If one person read this and didn't leave their purse alone, it worked.

JP Transplant Too  

Posted: November 30th, 2012 2:05 PM

I am amused by your comments. You really think the police just say well tell them to stop getting robbed and do nothing else? So you don't want to be warned that crime is occurring? Foom or Fool?


Posted: November 30th, 2012 11:13 AM

LOL I Agree with Transplant, I can see how this convo went. "Hey Cheif a lot of people are getting robbed at panera any ideas on how to stop it ". "ya tell those idiots to stop getting robbed" "Genius!"

OP Transplant  

Posted: November 29th, 2012 3:15 PM

JP-I'm not suggesting the police solve all my problems, but I don't think it's too out of line to want them to solve a crime problem. They know the crime and the location, and their answer is to warn people not to get robbed? Really?

JP Transplant Too from Oak Park  

Posted: November 29th, 2012 2:17 PM

@OPTransplant. To assume the police can solve all your problems is niave. If you didn't know it was happening how could you avoid it? Do you deliberately waive money around as you walk the streets at night, and blame the police for not saving you?

OP Transplant  

Posted: November 28th, 2012 3:54 PM

Charles - Another way to look at it: If RF's crack police force knows what crime is being committed and where, could they maybe do more than warn people? How hard could it be? It's a freakin' Panera, not a mob-run casino!


Posted: November 28th, 2012 3:52 PM

Hey Carol, why dosent the whole city just follow your logic then? If every idiot in OP would just lock their doors then that would 100% eliminate break ins! Lock your car doors guys then 100% elimination in stolen cars! You are onto something here

Alberto Einstein from Oak Park  

Posted: November 28th, 2012 3:37 PM

The 2nd item is hilarious. 2 strangers in a Cadillac ask you if you want to buy a laptop computer while you are getting money out of the ATM. WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG????

Charles Ledbetter from Oak Park  

Posted: November 28th, 2012 3:29 PM

I think you are missing the point. It looks like the police department is alerting you to be careful. Yes it is not pleasant to think that you have to keep your guard up in a decent town like River Forest, but just do it smartly. Why invite trouble?

OP Transplant  

Posted: November 28th, 2012 1:57 PM

Carol's right. If you choose against all good judgement to go slumming in the dark heart of River Forest, you're just asking for it. Only a tough, street-smart chick like Carol knows how to handle the Panera. You people crack me up!


Posted: November 28th, 2012 1:12 PM

Carol, What word do you live in? If ther is a way then Criminals will find it to rob you even if you do take some precautions. This is just low hanging fruit that criminals wont pass up.

Carol from Oak Park  

Posted: November 28th, 2012 11:36 AM

Let's look at this another way: If those of you in Leave It to Beaver Land would stop hanging purses on restaurant chairs, leaving them in shopping carts, leaving property in your cars THERE WOULD BE NO OPPORTUNITIES FOR CRIMINALS.


Posted: November 24th, 2012 4:00 PM

Winter, that description is not in the oakpark.com article, which is why I said partial description. I agree that the actual description is a good start.

Jason from RF  

Posted: November 24th, 2012 2:14 PM

The suspects were wearing hoodies, but that is not enough to release to the public.

Winter Skye  

Posted: November 24th, 2012 1:44 PM

@Rez: Partial description? That one sounds pretty spot-on! A youngish Black dude in a blue puffy jacket (and most people don't have an extensive jacket collection, so chances are the perp wears it regularly) is a great start.


Posted: November 24th, 2012 12:53 AM

Thanks for the descriptions, Joe. I don't see the point of partial reporting of descriptions, if the point is to provide information that could lead to arrests. If the point is to merely account for the number of crimes, then just list the crimes.


Posted: November 24th, 2012 12:49 AM

that's has people constantly present, so it should be more secure than it is. People pay a lot of taxes to live here and deserve to feel like they can have there bag on the chair without some creep snatching it. Panera needs to address this.


Posted: November 24th, 2012 12:46 AM

I agree with Foom. The minute we start making excuses for the little things like the theft of a bag hanging from a chair, is the minute we start inviting more serious crimes. Panera is not a park bench out in the open, it's an inclosed space cont.


Posted: November 24th, 2012 12:34 AM

Description of the Elmwood robber from the Patch. "The offender was described as male, black, about 20 years old, about 6-feet-tall and 200 pounds. He was wearing a blue puffy jacket and dark pants."

joe from south oak park  

Posted: November 22nd, 2012 7:58 PM

sad yes, but that is life in the big city.

OP Transplant  

Posted: November 21st, 2012 5:10 PM

Carol, I came here from another midwestern city. Believe me that there are places where women can hang their purses on the backs of their chairs. I've seen it done many times. It's sad to me that you expect to be robbed.

Carol from Oak Park  

Posted: November 21st, 2012 4:08 PM

OPTransplant, did you come here from another planet? Name one place where it makes common sense to hang a purse on a chair, leave it in a shopping cart, leave valuables in a car. Please don't waste our tax dollars by filing a police report.

OP Transplant  

Posted: November 21st, 2012 10:39 AM

The assertion that hanging a purse on the back of a chair makes an ensuing theft OK is absurd. But it's an apt description of how low your expectations become if you live in OP or RF. In other communities, people can eat bagels without being robbed!

Carol from Oak Park  

Posted: November 21st, 2012 10:18 AM

Anyone stupid enough to hang a purse on the back of a chair or put it on the floor deserves to have it stolen. Don't blame the restaurant.


Posted: November 21st, 2012 9:11 AM

Also Panera keeps its streak of robberies going, every single week someone is getting robbed in there. When are they gonna wake up and hire a security guard to keep an eye on people/employees?


Posted: November 21st, 2012 9:10 AM

Can we get these "several vague suspect descriptions" please??? Are they kids/adults, men/women, groups/solo, whats going on?

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