A year of weird crimes in Oak Park and River Forest

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By Ben Meyerson

Chicago Journal Editor

A lot of strange commissions cross Wednesday Journal's crime desk. Many of the perpetrations we report are ugly and damaging, but some are just plain weird. In case you missed them, here's our list of the most interesting odd crimes of 2010:

Craigslist scam solution: Only read Wednesday Journal classifieds

A man who allegedly twice tricked people into paying him rent on an apartment he didn't own was arrested in August.

Ronald Burkhart, 47, a former River Forest resident and a registered sex offender in Coldiron, Ky., was accused of twice luring victims from Craigslist into signing fake leases for an apartment on the 1500 block of Harlem in River Forest.

He raked in $2,550 from prepaid rent and deposits from the victims.

Burkhart's girlfriend had formerly lived in the apartment before she was evicted earlier this year, but Burkhart still had keys to the empty unit.

Once in April and once in June, he scheduled showings of the apartment, at least one through a Craigslist ad. Since he had keys, it was simple for him to get in the unit and show potential renters around, police explained.

"Apparently, he talked the talk and walked the walk," Sgt. Marty Grill, head of the River Forest detective division, said of Burkhart in June.

Burkhart was eventually arrested in Chicago by River Forest police in August.

My luau is ruined!

Marcell Fields of Chicago, 39, was arrested for retail theft, the afternoon of Dec. 14, at the Jewel, 7525 W. Lake in River Forest. She allegedly took paper towels, batteries, laundry detergent and a pineapple.

What would Warhol do?

Someone threw a can of vegetables through the rear driver's side window of a car parked on the 1000 block of South Humphrey in Oak Park, overnight between Nov. 26 and 27.

Rock-a-bye baby

When River Forest police pulled over a woman for erratic driving, early the morning of Oct. 25, they got a bit more than they bargained for.

After Carolyn M. Foley of Chicago, 23, allegedly made an illegal u-turn near the intersection of Lathrop and Berkshire in River Forest, police pulled her over. They found Foley in her bathrobe, allegedly trying to hide something underneath her seat.

Police searched her vehicle and allegedly found 2.19 grams of crack cocaine. She was charged with possession of a controlled substance.

Dehydrated, homeless and naked

A 24-pack of water, an apartment lease, and referee uniforms were stolen from an unlocked car parked on the 900 block of Lake Street in Oak Park, early the morning of Oct. 23.

Sorry officer, I didn't want to let the AC out

River Forest police officers pulled over Giovanni Lyles-Dawson of Broadview, 29, and his mother, Jayne Dawson of northwest suburban North Hills, 47, at the intersection of Thatcher and Greenfield, the evening of Sept. 9.

When officers approached the vehicle, they smelled marijuana, and asked Lyles-Dawson and his mother to step out of the car. However, the two then locked their doors, rolled up their windows and refused to leave the car.

Lyles-Dawson was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and obstructing justice, and Jayne Dawson was also arrested and charged with obstructing justice.

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