Chicago police busted two separate fencing operations last week, one of which stretched into Oak Park and other suburbs.

Officers conducted searches at two West Side homes, one on Friday and the other the previous Sunday. The latter search, police said, turned up items that had been stolen from the suburbs as well as Chicago. The suspect in Friday’s arrest, Claude McKay Jr., 65, of the 5400 block on W. Crystal, was charged with three misdemeanor counts of theft-control of stolen property and one felony count of possession of a controlled substance.

Officers in Chicago’s 15th District, which encompasses neighboring Austin, netted stolen items estimated at $125,000. Among the items found were tools, toolboxes and bicycles. Police also fetched two handguns, ammunition and what they suspect is heroin. McKay was scheduled to appear in bond court Sunday. Police said Friday’s search was a follow-up to one conducted on Jan.17. That bust netted stolen loot valued at $100,000 in total. Some of the items were later found to belong to a resident of Oak Park.

Police searched a home in the 4300 block of W. Congress Parkway in Austin. They discovered stolen items throughout, so much that officers had to enter the location from a back entrance because the front door was blocked with loot. Police also recovered several boxes of ammunition. Two suspects living there were arrested. Jeremiah Dobynes, 38, was charged with three counts of felony theft and unlawful use of a weapon. Curtis Ball, 54, was charged with three counts of felony theft. A third suspect in the ring, William Harrington, 56, was charged with one count of misdemeanor theft and lost property.

Officers also found a truck and trailer there filled with stolen goods. Police said the items were stolen from vehicles, residential garages and construction sites; and that the offenders would also take items out of vehicles parked on city streets. Dobynes and Ball appeared in a Chicago bond court on Jan. 19. Harrington is scheduled to appear in misdemeanor court on March 18.

Police added that they were aware of a massive fencing operation on the West Side, but not who was operating it. The ring was uncovered through a tip provided to police the day before Jan. 17 bust. Among the items seized were VCRs, power tools, a 6-foot power generator and also a floor buffer. Tires and rims were also recovered; as were flat-screen TVs and dozens of bicycles.

Austin police had the stolen items from both busts on display at the 15th District headquarters, 5701 W. Madison, where victims could come and identify their items. Loot from Friday’s arrest was on display Sunday and Monday. Residents looking for their stolen merchandise are asked to prove ownership.

Items that aren’t recovered will be sold at a police auction, officers said.

CONTACT: tdean@wjinc.com

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