Oak Park police link drug bust evidence to items stolen at OPRF

So far, nine calculators seized in arrest traced to OPRF students


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By Megan Dooley

Staff Reporters

Oak Park police have now linked nine scientific calculators found last week in a Harrison Street apartment drug bust to merchandise reported stolen from students at Oak Park and River Forest High School.

The investigation continues into finding the owners of hundreds of calculators, cell phones, and iPods recovered from the scene of an Aug. 4 drug bust that ended with the arrest of an OPRF student on felony charges including unlawful possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver. Two male adults were also arrested and face lesser charges.

According to the Oak Park police, nine of those calculators have been identified as property of OPRF students. Only five had been reported stolen. The rest were identified through other means. The police said tracking down the owners of the remaining items – 148 calculators, 4 iPhones, 25 cell phones and 29 iPods – will likely take some time.

In addition to the confiscated electronics, 28.7 grams of cocaine and 134.4 grams of cannabis were found at the scene at an apartment on the first block of Harrison. Also found were a handgun with ammunition and approximately $1,000 in cash.

Pawel Borowski-Beszta, 17, of the 800 block of Woodbine, was arrested for unlawful possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, unlawful possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver within 1,000 feet of a park, unlawful possession of a controlled substance, unlawful possession of cannabis with intent to deliver, unlawful possession of cannabis, and aggravated use of a weapon. All are felony charges.

It remains unclear whether Borowski-Beszta came into possession of the electronics by theft, or if the owners of the items used them as collateral for a debt, or as payment for drugs.

Oak Park Township Youth Services Director John Williams said he's not familiar with the details of this particular case, but that in general, it would not be uncommon for a drug-addicted person to pawn off an item of value in exchange for drugs.

"Addicts think differently," he said. For instance, Williams said, as a young person becomes more and more involved with drugs, they might turn to any items of value that they have to support the habit. An iPhone, iPod, or scientific calculator might be used to pay for drugs, and then possibly reported lost or stolen by the owner.

"Selling or trading things that are your own, suddenly can become within the range of your behavior," Williams said, of addicted drug users.

Or the drug user might begin stealing these small electronics from others to use in exchange for drugs. According to police, the electronics do have resale value on the street.

Police Chief Rick Tanksley said Monday that police are not notified about all reports of theft at the high school. Unless a student approaches the school's student resource officer who is an Oak Park police officer to report a theft, or files a police report directly with the department, the theft remains internal to the school if reported at all.

"We need to encourage individuals to report crime, report thefts. That puts us in a better position to know the extent of a particular problem," Tanksley said. "If crime is occurring in a certain area of town, or building, we can start addressing that. But we can't address it if we don't know it."

Tanksley also said it is important to mark one's property, and keep a record of serial numbers for valuable items. That way, when property is recovered, it can be identified and returned to its rightful owner.

"It also aids us in prosecution," Tanksley said. "Having a piece of property which one could logically assume was stolen, but not being able to tie that to a victim, we cannot charge anybody with that."

High school officials, meanwhile, said thefts are reported by students to safety and support staff, who investigate those cases. As of last Friday, the school had not been notified by police about any of the stolen items in the recent drug raid belonging to students. According to school officials, thefts are among the most time-consuming infractions handled by discipline deans.

The most recent discipline data available for the 2010-2011 school year shows that there were 14 reported incidents of theft or possession of stolen property that year. A student can report a theft to the School Resource Officer, who's also an Oak Park police officer, but the high school doesn't automatically call the police themselves. A parent or student can call police directly to report a stolen item, said Kay Foran, the high school's spokesperson.

Jacques Conway, a former Oak Park police officer, school SRO and OPRF school board member, told Wednesday Journal the school has always taken theft incidents seriously. During his time there in the 1990s, Conway said once a student fills out an incident report the investigation can involve viewing security cameras and talking to students. But typically, the student would be asked to retrace his or her steps because sometimes items can be misplaced.

Conway added that students sometimes share lockers with their friends, leaving their phones or other items in that locker but one of the students may forget to lock it. And there are those rare occasions where a student might falsify a report, Conway said.

"They may leave their phone somewhere, sell or even give it away because they know their mom and dad will replace it. They're looking for something new—new shoes or a new phone—and this is their way of getting it."

The high school will also return a students' item if staff are able to determine who it belongs to, Conway said.

Reader Comments

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Comment Policy

Violet Aura  

Posted: September 3rd, 2011 10:16 PM

Helllloooooo, WJ? He was indicted yesterday. Catch. Up.

Comments are us  

Posted: August 30th, 2011 4:27 PM

truth, are you aware of 50 drug dealers in OP? If so, why havent you called the PD on them anonymously? This guy was busted becasue someone told the cops. People in the know of people doing illegal things should come forward and help our community rid itself of these criminals.

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: August 30th, 2011 9:06 AM

kid from oprf - Did you graduate? If you did, judging by your writing skills, I don't know if I want to send my kids there. rofo? wtf?


Posted: August 29th, 2011 11:48 PM

Comments are us! In no way was I sayinf his actions were impressive. I'm just saying their are so many drug dealers in Oak Park that nothing are done abour. I'm sorry for the misinterpriatation i'm not defending this kid by any stretch.

Comments are us  

Posted: August 29th, 2011 4:16 PM

So advanced...he's sitting in 26th and California with no one to bail him out! Impressive.


Posted: August 29th, 2011 3:17 PM

Their are 50 plus drug dealers in Oak Park. This is no news, its just impressive how advanced he was.

OP Guy  

Posted: August 18th, 2011 11:38 PM

Kid from OPRF, It's not his fault that he has a hard life, but it IS his fault that he's dealing and getting into other bad S&*T. Your reasoning for him is typical of every other kid that has a hard life and ends up dealing, but at some point these people have to take responsibility for their actions. Does everyone who's had it hard go dealing? NO! Are there other choices? YES! He get sympathy as an abused child, but none for his crimes. BTW, did you buy drugs with your parents money?

O P Rez  

Posted: August 18th, 2011 8:42 AM

This story is the perfect example of how drugs and crime are tied together. You might say pot is not that harsh of a substance similar to legalized alcohol, but look what people do to get it. Either steal or trade in calculators from school. Note: These calculators can run upwards of $130 each. These are not the $5 specials.

i knew this kid from from oprf  

Posted: August 18th, 2011 1:40 AM

i knew this kid, if you ever seen scarface, he's tony montana. he didnt have good life, he didnt have a safe place to go to. his parents were asses, and yes his father beat him. he had to support himself the only way he was exposed to, drugs. and thats not his fault, it oak park. believe it or not but if your making money and you give your kids money, they will buy drugs, that is the only fun thing to do here, and as a teenager, nobody is going to sell thier calc. for drugs, this article is rofo

Stupid from Oak Park from Oak Park  

Posted: August 17th, 2011 10:40 PM

Come on Kindness Counts from Oak Park. I will try to work on being more kind, but I for it very difficult to understand how Julian count not know who to call.

Kindness Counts from Oak Park  

Posted: August 17th, 2011 10:00 PM

I'd like to remind everyone, especially Stupid and Parents, that the anonymity of the internet is not an excuse for acting rudely. I am sure that the OP police drew the conclusion about OPRF just as quickly as you did, Cece, they just needed to verify their assumptions. Guesses usually don't stand up in a court room. As for Parents, not every teenager is a drug addict willing to peddle their electronics, some of them are productive members of society.

Stupid from Oak Park  

Posted: August 17th, 2011 12:58 AM

Gee Julian, you must have a difficult time selecting what toilet paper to choose, so lets me be of assistance. You have the numbers, and OPPD has devices. Who do you think you should call? WRONG! Not the W.J., call the Police Department.

Julian mom from Oak Park  

Posted: August 16th, 2011 8:59 PM

WOW! My daughter's IPOD was stolen at Julian- we have the registered identification number, trackingg and serial # I wonder how we can try to see if it's now in police custody?

Jane from River Forest  

Posted: August 16th, 2011 6:39 PM

Wow. This is groundbreaking police work. The stolen calculators were from OPRF? SHOCKING.


Posted: August 16th, 2011 3:54 PM

Don't project your kid's behavior on everyone else's. Or is your's the seller?


Posted: August 16th, 2011 3:22 PM

Well, since my "kid" had to pay for the replacement calculator (and knew that in advance), I think it unlikely that they "traded it" for drugs. I'm next informing them of this. Might get lucky - calculators ARE expensive. I hope that the thieves rot.

Parents really?  

Posted: August 15th, 2011 7:22 PM

Don't kid yourself. Your kid reported their stuff stolen but traded it as collateral for drugs.


Posted: August 15th, 2011 4:54 PM

Wow, who would have thought they might have been stolen from OPRF. While reading the initial article, I called to my son, "Found your stolen calculator."

Eilene McCullagh Heckman  

Posted: August 15th, 2011 4:40 PM

And I need to proofread my proofreads! :-)

Eilene McCullagh Heckman  

Posted: August 15th, 2011 4:39 PM

Putting my proofreading hat on...usually "merchandise" is something that is "for sale." You steal merchandise is stolen from a store. "Property" is stolen from a person.

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