Holiday week? Street robbers say 'no thanks'

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By BILL DWYER

First posted 11/26/2008 3:26 p.m.

Oak Park police reported a total of six street robberies last week-including two purse-snatchings that are technically classified as thefts from person. It's believed two strong-armed robberies on Nov. 25 may be related. In addition, a convenience store clerk was assaulted and robbed Sunday night.

Shortly before 5 p.m., Nov. 25, an Oak Park juvenile, walking on the 100 block of North Harvey, was punched in the jaw from behind and knocked to the ground by another teenager who demanded his money. When the victim turned over $3, a second teen appeared and the two thieves ran off.

About an hour later, on the 700 block of Hayes, a resident of the 1000 block of Hayes was punched in the back of the head by a man he described as between 30 and 50 years old. The man fell to the ground, but managed to get up and run. However the robber chased him and demanded money. The man turned over his wallet, containing $52.

Despite the differences in descriptions given by the two victims, Detective Sgt. Art Borchers believes the robberies are "probably related."

"Other than the descriptions, they're in the same general place and time," said Borchers, who noted the crimes occurred after dark.

An unrelated robbery occurred around 10 p.m., Nov. 23, at the BP Amoco station, 6129 North Ave. A man who had just finished pumping gas was accosted by two men, one of whom opened his van door and demanded his wallet. When the man complied, the robber pulled him out of the driver's seat, and he and an accomplice jumped in and drove off westbound on North Avenue.

The afternoon of Nov. 26, a man walking on the 300 block of South Boulevard was approached from behind by a man who stuck an unknown object in his back and demanded his cellphone. After the victim complied, the thief ran off.

Around 1 p.m. on Nov. 30, an Oak Park boy, walking in the alley behind the 200 block of South Humphrey Ave., was attacked by three teens. One punched the boy in the eye and took his backpack, while another took his cellphone.

In what was technically a theft from person, a man ran up behind a woman walking on the 400 block of North Austin, the night of Nov. 29, and snatched her purse off her shoulder. The man ran off with $200 cash, IDs and the woman's personal meds.
The next evening, a woman from the Netherlands who'd been shopping had her tote bag stolen on the first block of South Marion after she set four shopping bags down to redistribute the load. A man ran up and ran off with the bag, which contained her cellphone, prescription glasses and wallet with $180.

Robber throws hot chocolate

Oak Park and Forest Park police believe they may be seeking the same suspect in two convenience store robberies. Around 2 a.m. Dec. 1, a man bought a cup of hot chocolate at the 7-11 store, 515 Madison. He handed the clerk $2, and when the clerk opened the register, the man threw the hot chocolate in his face, grabbed $100 from the tray and ran out. A similar robbery occurred around the same time the previous night at a gas station at Harlem and Randolph in Forest Park.

"We're still waiting to view the [security] video," said Sgt. Borchers.

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