Carjackings jolt northeast Oak Park

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

A man was carjacked at gunpoint in the alley of the 700 block of North Harvey Avenue during the evening of Dec. 4 – it was the third such crime committed in northeast Oak Park in less than a week.

Two other carjacking attempts took place – one on the block adjacent to the Harvey carjacking – around the same time on Nov. 28. Oak Park police report that the carjacking carjacking on Harvey took place at 5:30 p.m. as the victim was parking his car in his garage.

The man was still in his car when another man appeared at the driver's side window, displayed a handgun and demanded his vehicle, according to an email from village spokesman David Powers.

The man handed over the vehicle and was not injured. He could not describe the carjacker but told police he did see another car in the alley with two occupants. 

Oak Park Police Commander Roger Grivetti said in a telephone interview that police are investigating the carjacking and have not yet taken anyone into custody.

Oak Park police also reported that two attempted carjackings took place in northeast Oak Park – one on North Lombard Avenue and the other on North Austin Boulevard – about 30 minutes apart on the evening of Nov. 28.

One of the victims, an Oak Park woman, reported that two men, one of them armed with a gun, tried to rob her of her vehicle after parking in the 700 block of North Lombard Avenue at about 6:20 p.m. 

Grivetti said Chicago police arrested two juveniles that evening believed to have committed the Lombard carjacking, but Chicago police charged the two with an armed robbery in the city that occurred around the same time as the attempted carjackings.

The woman, who discussed the incident under the condition of anonymity over concerns for her safety, said she had returned home with her 3-year-old daughter, parked the car on the street and got out to retrieve a backpack from the front seat.

Her daughter was still buckled up in a car seat in the back, watching the movie Trolls on her mom's cell phone, the woman said.

"Don't say a word! Shut up! Shut up!" a man screamed, as he held the gun to the temple of the woman's head.

The woman said that in the moment, she thought maybe it was her husband playing a trick on her, but she quickly realized what was happening. 

"Give me the keys! Give me the keys! Don't say a word and give me the keys!" the man demanded. 

The woman then noticed another, younger male, approximately 16 years old, standing on the walkway leading up to her front door. 

"It was a surreal moment," she said. "I was very calm and said, 'Please, my daughter is inside. Please let me get my daughter out.'"

The man with the gun decided it was too much trouble, telling his younger partner, "It's not worth it. Screw it. We're out of here. This is not worth it."

The gunman put the weapon in his pants pocket, and the two fled on foot toward Augusta Street, she said.

"I was just in shock," the woman said. "I got back into the car and locked the door."

Her daughter was completely unaware of what had taken place, the woman said. 

She called the Oak Park Police Department, and officers arrived in less than five minutes, the woman said. 

"I couldn't believe it happened," she said. "I worried they were going to take the car with my 3-year-old. I thought, 'What's going to happen to my daughter?'"

According to the woman, police informed her that they had received two or three other phone calls within a short period of time reporting other attempted carjackings had taken place in the area, but only one other attempted carjacking could immediately be confirmed.

The woman said police drove her to a location about three blocks away from her home, near the intersection of Augusta Street and Austin Boulevard. They had two juveniles in custody, but the woman said she was uncertain whether they were the two who attempted to steal her vehicle.

Grivetti said that shortly after the attempted carjacking on Austin Boulevard, Chicago police broadcast a report of an armed robbery that took place in Chicago at the corner of West Division Street and North Mason Avenue.

The victim on Lombard was unable to positively identify the two juveniles taken into custody, so Oak Park police took them into the station for questioning. Grivetti said the juveniles' parents instructed them not to speak with police. 

The two were then turned over to Chicago police and positively identified by witnesses as having committed the armed robbery in Chicago and were charged with that crime, Grivetti said.

Grivetti said that although the juveniles could not be positively identified by the victims in the Oak Park carjackings last week, police believe they committed the Lombard carjacking attempt.

"We're pretty confident we have the individuals but because of the circumstances we were unable to charge them with a crime," he said.

The woman who was the target of the attempted carjacking on Lombard said the gunman was skinny and tall and wore baggy jeans and exposed boxer shorts, which may have been red. His accomplice, who stood on the walkway to her home, was described as wearing a hoodie and "he had this crazy mask" with a "weird design" that only covered his mouth, she said. She said both were black.

The woman speculated that she might have been targeted because of two large trees in front of her house and poor lighting in the area.

"We need light posts," she said. "If there had been a light post in front of my house, maybe they wouldn't have done it."

She said the incident "happened so fast" that she didn't believe it was happening until it was all over.

The woman said she already has a security system at her home but is planning to install better lighting and video monitoring.

She and her husband also plan to petition the village to install a light post on the street near her home.

"You can't see anything after 4:30 p.m.," she said. "My husband and I are going to the village to get the paperwork to get signatures for that."

She added that she is uncertain whether the two individuals the police had in custody were charged with the crime or any of the other alleged carjacking attempts in the area that evening.

In a separate incident, three young men, two approximately between the ages of 17 and 19, attempted to carjack a Chicago man at gunpoint in the 1200 block of North Austin Boulevard at 5:50 p.m., about 30 minutes prior to the attempted carjacking on Lombard.

According to a summary report from the Oak Park Police Department, the victim was in the rear of North Austin, when the three men approached the vehicle.  

One of the carjackers walked up to the driver's side window, pointed a black revolver and ordered the victim to give him the car, while trying to open the vehicle's door. The victim then drove off. 

All three of the men were black. One had a thin build, wore tan pants and stood between 5-foot-6 and 5-foot-8. The second offender was about 6 feet tall, had a thin build and wore a black hoodie with the hood up. No description was given for the third offender.

* This article was updated to correct the name of the street where the most recent carjacking occurred, which was incorrectly reported by the Village of Oak Park.

CONTACT: tim@oakpark.com

Reader Comments

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Tommy McCoy  

Posted: December 5th, 2017 7:21 PM

Bryan Rekar, backing in does give you an advantage if you haven't been targeted. A lot of car jackers use another car to follow someone they want to target. A lot of times it is a car that has a licensed applied for licensed plate. If you notice when you are getting close to your home that another vehicle is following you just make a pass by and notice if the car is still following you. I am sure the professionals will have a lot of information and maybe even hand outs that will help each person attending the meeting to learn things they had no idea about what thieves do. If Joel video tapes it for VOP 6 and edits it down to the tips it can be very valuable information

Bryan Rekar from Oak Park  

Posted: December 5th, 2017 6:39 PM

Here's a suggestion on what I do when pulling into the garage through the alley at night. I first pause and take a look before I open the garage door with the remote to make sure nobody is lurking behind the garbage can or the corner. Then I pull past the garage and back in. At that point, there sort of an inherent advantage that you can just gun it and pull out of the garage if someone follows in after you. At least psychologically I feel a bit more in control. What a terrible thing we have to deal with though, right? People busting their asses after a long day of work, rushing to pick up the kids or get home to make dinner, trying to pay bills and lead their lives, and the scumbag predators with no regard for human life have to prey on us. It's sad.

Jonathan Lattyak from Oak Park  

Posted: December 5th, 2017 4:22 PM

which alley was it? Between Humphrey and Austin or between Humphrey and Taylor? Also all the Neighbors in the NE Oak Park Facebook group are saying that the most recent carjacking was the ally between the 700 block of Lombard and Harvey. No reports from neighbors about anything like that on Humphrey recently.

Kevin Hayden  

Posted: December 5th, 2017 4:01 PM

And this might be part of the problem "Grivetti said the juveniles' parents instructed them not to speak with police." I'm glad they were positively identified by the people they robbed but unfortunately they will be out doing the same thing tomorrow and their parents will be encouraging the behavior...and I DON'T CARE what color they are.

Tommy McCoy  

Posted: December 5th, 2017 3:46 PM

Very good article. This shows how difficult it can be to not become a victim when you are parking your car, and the person did everything correctly. The car will eventually be recovered and most importantly the victim is safe. This is one of the easiest situations to get caught in. The unfortunate part that keeps breeding new thieves is parenting telling their children not to talk to the Police. For some reason in neighborhoods that are infested with crime, not many will talk with the Police. I am confident that if everyone can make it to the meeting they will come away with information that will help decrease the chances of becoming a victim. Here is the link to day and time of two meetings. http://www.oakpark.com/News/Articles/12-1-2017/Oak-Park-police-to-hold-meetings-on-carjacking/

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