'Gypsy scam' nets $17,000 from seniors

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A trio of men pretending to be utility workers stole two pieces of expensive jewelry and $2,000 cash from a pair of senior citizens the afternoon of Sept. 24.

One man rang the rear doorbell of the couple's home on the 500 block of Jackson in River Forest around 10 a.m. and asked the man to point out his property line so a ditch could be dug on the neighboring property. Meanwhile, a second man entered the front door, hollered out a name and distracted the homeowner's wife.

"He sort of backed her into a corner, talking to her," said Sgt. Mike Thornley. Unbeknownst to either resident, a third person entered the home and ransacked a bedroom. When the three men left, the homeowners realized a gold Rolex watch valued at over $12,000 was missing, as was a gold and diamond ring and $2,000 cash.

Two of the men were described as Hispanic and in their 30s. One was 5-feet, 4-inches and heavily built, the other 5-feet, 5-inches and around 165 pounds.

Thornley estimated this type of deceptive practice occurs about every other month in River Forest, always involving senior citizens.

"Never let anyone into your home who you don't know," Thornley warned. All legitimate utility workers, he said, will have formal identification prominently displayed on their person.

Thornley urged people to use their instincts. "Even if they're wearing a badge, and you're not comfortable, by all means, call the police," he said. "We don't mind coming over to verify it."


An Oak Park boy walking on the 100 block of S. Humphrey the evening of Sept. 25 was attacked by three young men. One punched the boy in the face and demanded money as the other turned his pockets inside out. As they ransacked his book bag, the boy hollered for help and the three thieves ran away.

Around 7 p.m. Sept. 26, a 10-year-old Chicago boy stopped an Oak Park boy, on the 600 block of N. Lombard, demanded he ride him into Chicago, then punched him in the stomach and demanded his cell phone. He then ran off.


A home on the 600 block of Wenonah was entered through an unlocked side door during the day Sept. 23. The home was ransacked and assorted jewelry and electronics valued at $3,845 were stolen.

A residence on the 7200 block of Division in River Forest was entered through an unlocked window during the day Sept. 23. An iPod and digital camera were stolen.

Burglars cut the screen on an open first floor window on the 1000 block of N. Lombard overnight Sept. 25. A laptop computer valued at $700 was stolen.

Burglars broke out a rear porch window on the 800 block of Belleforte Sept. 18-21. However, a locked inner door prevented entry.

A large rock was used to break a rear door window on the 300 block of Ashland, River Forest the morning of Sept. 23. Assorted electronics and jewelry valued at $1,500 was stolen. Investigators have sent evidence left at the scene to the State Police crime laboratory.

The evening of Sept. 24 a woman inside her under-construction residence on the 1100 block of Erie heard a loud bang at her front door and observed two men attempting to break the door down.

Vehicle burglary

A side window of a car on Franklin near Madison was smashed the night of Sept. 23 and a GPS device stolen.

The side window of a car on the 400 block of S. Humphrey was broken during the day Sept. 24 and a GPS device stolen.

A laptop valued at $1,500 was stolen through the open window of a truck outside OPRF high school the morning of Sept. 24.

Public indecency

An Oak Park girl was accosted by a man as she entered her home on the 1200 block of Fair Oaks the afternoon of Sept. 22. When the man asked her for her phone number, the girl refused, at which point the man reportedly exposed himself. The man is described as "bi-racial," with long braids and facial freckles, six-feet tall and in his early 20s.

Outside warrent

Rubon Turner, 35, of Bellwood, was stopped on the 100 block of Ashland for an alleged traffic violation around 4 a.m. Sept. 27. He was arrested and turned over to Bellwood police on a warrant for DUI and driving on a suspended license.

Jeffrey C. Mbamala, 26, of 316 Marengo, Forest Park, was allegedly found asleep at the wheel of a car in the westbound turn lane at Madison and Harlem. A name check turned up two arrest warrants for criminal damage to property in DuPage County.


Polo Cedeno Gascon, 46, of 4823 S. Laflin, Chicago was allegedly traveling 70 mph in a 30 mph zone on North Avenue around 1:30 a.m. Sept. 24. Police who stopped him on the 5900 block of North in Chicago say he failed a field sobriety test, and had a blood alcohol level over the legal limit of .08. He was also charged with aggravated speeding, reckless driving, and transporting open alcohol.

Alfred A. Navarrete, 21, was stopped near Chicago and Franklin in River Forest for an alleged traffic violation just before midnight Sept. 25. Police say Navarrete, who was driving a stolen car, was charged with felony DUI after he was determined to have four previous convictions for DUI.


Nicholas S. Lusson, 20, of Westmont, was arrested the night of Sept. 22 after he was identified as the person who allegedly stole jewelry from the grandmother of a girlfriend on the 200 block of N. Kenilworth.


Jason Nykaza, 21, of Hoffman Estates, was stopped by River Forest police at around 10 p.m. Sept. 22. on Washington Blvd. near 3rd Avenue in Maywood for an expired plate. Nykaza allegedly refused to exit the car after police spotted a package of hypodermic needles in plain site, and had to be physically removed. A total of 1.4 grams of heroin was reportedly subsequently found under the driver's seat.

Nykaza was paroled from prison in April from a four year sentence for burglary in DuPage County.

Shaun E. Sutter, 25, of 21398 W. Nielson, Lake Villa, was reportedly observed by police sitting in a car in the McDonald's lot, 111 Madison, the afternoon of Sept. 21. Police, who knew of an arrest warrant on Sutter, said there was a hypodermic needle, a spoon and five packets of heroin in the car.

These items were obtained from police reports filed by the Oak Park and River Forest police departments from Sept. 21-28. Not all incidents that occurred are listed. Anyone named in reports has only been charged with a crime and cases have not yet been adjudicated.

-Bill Dwyer

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