Four robberies in Oak Park within 10 days prompted the village to issue a statement Tuesday, calling for residents to “stay alert and report suspicious persons immediately.”
According to police reports, victims were pushed to the ground, punched and kicked, then relieved of purses, wallets and cellphones. In three instances, handguns were displayed or implied. Three of the robberies appear to have been committed by juveniles.
“No serious physical injuries were reported in any of the incidents, but police say the experiences were traumatic for the victims,” the press release said.
Oak Park police called for community help in the statement issued Tuesday.
“These types of crimes are difficult to solve without the help of the community,” said Oak Park Police Chief Rick Tanksley in the press release. “We ask residents to keep their eyes and ears open for unusual activity or suspicious individuals in their neighborhoods and to never hesitate to call 911.”
Tanksley advised that residents might put themselves in danger of being caught unaware if they are wearing headphones or walking while “scrolling a screen.”
“Listening to music with headphones or checking your email can make it a lot easier for an assailant to slip up unnoticed,” Tanksley said. “Criminals spend their time looking for opportunities.”
Police reported one arrest for a Nov. 13 incident in the 800 block of South Taylor Avenue. A 15-year-old Forest Park juvenile was charged with aggravated battery and aggravated robbery and turned over to his guardian.
According to police reports submitted to Wednesday Journal, the most recent victim, a woman, was robbed Monday night in the 800 block of South Humphrey Avenue around 8 p.m.
Two teenagers approached the victim as she was walking, struck her with an unknown object and knocked her to the ground. One offender displayed a handgun and the victim surrendered her cell phone, purse and keys.
Meanwhile, the mother of a juvenile robbed in the 300 block of South Ridgeland Avenue on Nov. 7 said she learned more about the incident since her daughter first reported the attack.
According to the woman, two eyewitnesses and her daughter stated that the six juveniles who attacked and robbed her daughter were actually part of a larger group of 14 to 15 juveniles walking on the east side of Ridgeland Avenue near Randolph Street.
“My daughter told me six young people crossed the street [to the west side of Ridgeland] and waited for her,” the girl’s mother said. “Two other witnesses saw the group of  young people and one eyewitness actually called 911.”
“I don’t know what’s going on with these kids,” the girl’s mother added. “It seems like it was some kind of group activity.”
The village press release offered the following safety tips:
- Trust your instincts. Cross the street to avoid groups that are loitering or hanging out.
- Be aware of your surroundings and avoid walking alone.
- Give up your possessions. Don’t risk personal injury.
Anyone with information on any crime can report it anonymously to Police by calling 708-434-1636, or report online at www.oak-park.us/crimetip.