An ill-advised turning maneuver by the driver of a stolen semitrailer led to the recovery of $1 million worth of electronics equipment early Friday morning in Oak Park.
Police received a phone call at 1:22 a.m. from a resident who had observed an 18-wheel semi attempt to pull into the alley between Highland Avenue and Harvey Avenue from Fillmore Street. The semi hit a power pole on the east side of the alley that fell on top of the truck cab.
Officers responding to the call observed two men by the truck cab. The cab had been detached from the trailer, and the driver was trying to pull the cab away.
When those officers attempted to question the driver, he ran off. The other man then told police that he just happened to be in the area, and was attempting to assist the other man.
Police were suspicious, however. Their suspicions were confirmed when they opened the trailer and discovered it was packed with 225 pieces of Samsung electronic entertainment equipment, including DVD players, and 50- and 62-inch plasma screen televisions.
Officers took the suspect back to the station for questioning, and contacted the trucking company, Averitt Express, which informed them that the truck and trailer had been stolen Thursday night from the company's distribution facility in Bedford Park, some six miles south of Oak Park.
Apparently, the thieves just walked past security at the trucking facility, gave a company employee a name, and got in the truck and drove off.
"To the best of my knowledge, they just walked in and grabbed it," said Tom McCormack of Averitt Express on Friday. McCormack also confirmed police reports that the trailer's cargo was worth "at least" $1 million.
Police continued to hold the suspect for questioning Friday.
"We're not buying his story," said Oak Park Police Chief Rick Tanksley.
"His explanation is just not logical," added Commander Clemet Harbor, who said that the man has told investigators that he was on his way home to Bolingbrook from the South Side. Why he took the circuitous route he did, and why the truck's driver attempted to turn down the alley are not known at this time.
Commonwealth Edison was also contacted to deal with the downed power pole. A repair crew was dispatched to the site, the pole was removed, and power restored by 3:30 a.m.
Company spokesman Ernesto Duran said Friday that the pole supported a power line feeding village street lights, and that residential customers were not affected.
Representatives from Averitt Express came to the Oak Park Police station to retrieve their semitrailer Friday afternoon.