Police beef up presence near daytime robbery sites


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Jean Lotus

Staff reporter

Oak Park police are increasing patrols near areas where two young women were victims of strong-arm robberies during the day over the weekend in Oak Park, said Commander LaDon Reynolds of the Oak Park police. One woman suffered injuries to her face and head as her purse was taken by force. 

The first incident occurred Friday, Aug. 23, around 3:30 p.m. in the 100 block of North Ridgeland Avenue. The 16-year-old victim told police she was walking with friends when she noticed a small group of people following her. The pursuers came up close to the victim and one of them, a female, grabbed the teen's iPhone. The victim held onto her phone, and the woman tried to pull it from her hand, according to police. The offender's friends reportedly yelled at the victim to "let it go, let it go." The victim eventually released her grip on the phone and the three fled eastbound on South Boulevard. Officers on the Green Line CTA platform recognized a group that fit the description of the offenders and took them into custody. The three Chicago residents were identified by the victim in a lineup as Denise R. McDowell, 18, of the 3600 block of King Drive; Brian Conner, 20, of the 2700 block of West Roosevelt Road; and Edmen C. Williams, 23, of the 7800 block of South Shore Drive. The three were charged with robbery and mob action.

In the second incident, a Forest Park woman, age 27, was walking northbound in the 1000 block of East Avenue around 4 p.m., Aug. 24, when a man, described by witnesses as 30-40 years old approached her from behind and tapped her on the shoulder. He then attempted to grab her teal-and-blue cloth purse. When she struggled and screamed, witnesses reported, he struck her in the head numerous times with his fists. When she released the purse, the offender ran into an alley where he jumped on a black BMX bike and fled northbound. A witness with a truck chased the bike for several blocks through the alleys, but the offender rode across the grass at Rehm Park and escaped. According to witnesses, the victim had serious injuries to her face and neighbors brought her an ice pack. She declined medical attention.

Reynolds said police did not think the two incidents were related.

"We have increased our police presence in the areas of these incidents," Reynolds said.

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Reader Comments

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Violet Aura  

Posted: August 30th, 2013 9:48 AM

@Realist: LOL...U wrong 4 that. And Brookfield ain't OP. OP is a great place to live and raise your kids. The only thing is that you have to use common sense. In the first place, why do parents shower their kids with $500 phones? Why is that necessary? It isn't! The one thing I am afraid of is OP turning into some 'burb with trashy conspicous consumption. The values that I associate with OP are social justice (which is NOT advocating for illegal immigration, by the way) and love of the arts.

Keep your cell phone from Oak Park  

Posted: August 28th, 2013 5:14 PM

Easy to keep yourself and your cell phone safe from the bad guys. Buy product display cell phone that looks like a cell phone but are not really a cell phone. When the bad guy says hand it over, you give it to him. He takes off running and you bring your real phone out from your pocket and call Police. Don't be a victim of crime. Have the laugh on the bad guy.

Still Here from Oak Park  

Posted: August 28th, 2013 3:29 PM

We have lived in OP for 8 years and have never been mugged or accosted while traveling all over the Village. Of course, we are VERY aware of our surroundings, avoid approaching groups that might make us nervous, and never have our expensive "toys" out for others to see. Even on the train to Chicago, we stay safe by keeping our eyes open. We travel frequently in large cities, too, and know when to be on alert. It can happen anywhere, but preventative actions keep us safe. Enjoy Oak Park!

Realist from Oak Park  

Posted: August 28th, 2013 3:09 PM

@Paula you did make a mistake moving here. try another western suburb, like Brookfield. Good schools, much lower crime and you won't get hosed quite as bad on property taxes. Of course, you'll miss out on the "diversity" of getting mugged in broad daylight.

OP Transplant  

Posted: August 28th, 2013 1:51 PM

M Perkins - I think you've lived here too long, if you imagine this type of crime happens anywhere in the country. Roving groups of urban thugs strong-arming teenage girls for an IPhone is a pretty location-specific crime. I'm new enough here to still not be used to it. Like Paula, it still makes me frightened for my kids.

M Perkins  

Posted: August 28th, 2013 1:41 PM

@Paula, you didn't make a mistake in moving to Oak Park. This could happen in any part of the country. Teens need to be more vigilant and not be on their iPhones/Pads while walking home from school. The criminal element will always be lurking around for kids who aren't paying attention to their surroundings. This happens in Chicago on a daily basis. Just tell your kids to put the phones/pads down until they get home. Let them enjoy the walk home and see just how nice Oak Park really is. Welcome.

Keeping an eye out  

Posted: August 28th, 2013 11:03 AM

I believe it is still safe for teens and tweens to walk in OP in a group, but I'd be curious to hear other parents' thoughts. I will say I see a lot of young people absorbed in their gadgets while walking, and I think this is inviting trouble. Even growing up in the era before cell phones, we as kids were taught to always be aware of our surroundings when out and about on our own..


Posted: August 28th, 2013 10:34 AM

You wanted rich cultural diversity and now that you have it, you are thinking of leaving? Just wait until all the elementary school kids are carrying iPads to school. ....

Paula from Oak Park  

Posted: August 28th, 2013 10:26 AM

Our family recently moved here from out of state for the good schools and the rich cultural diversity. I am very disturbed by these crimes committed during broad daylight hours...did we make a mistake in choosing oak park? I have the safety of my young teenagers to think of...

OP Rez  

Posted: August 27th, 2013 10:19 PM

There have been plenty of instances where the WJ omits the color of the criminal, yet it shows up on the Patch site. So are we to think the police are only providing the majority of these descriptions to other publications? If the police are providing these descriptions to other publications, there's obviously reason to do so. Saying that, I come here for debating in the comments sections, and I got to Patch for objective information and the full story.

Know What You are Talking About  

Posted: August 27th, 2013 7:03 PM

@ Can this be happening...if I was enjoying the commission, I wouldn't waste my time on here. Your ignorance of what you're talking about wouldn't affect a commission I already received. Either way..you made a funny.."our resources vs. our neighboring communities"?...ummm we have one of the largest villages among our neighboring communities. Could it be possible that you saw the fleet when most of the cars were not in use?

Bob Stangel  

Posted: August 27th, 2013 6:58 PM

You're right Mares, you only stated "it's called profiling"...Since my comprehension is so poor, please tell us what profiling you were referring to. Obviously you weren't referring to racial profiling though it is the primary form of profiling discussed in such articles. You are right though, you made a vague comment which didn't take a specific stand on anything that made sense.


Posted: August 27th, 2013 5:59 PM

At "Can this be happening..." Not quite 100% sure, but I believe the "SWAT" van was obtained with county funds that originated at the federal level. Still tax dollars, for sure, but not nearly all local. Oak Park PD is a major part of a regional emergency response organization in place since 911. As such, it's expected to be prepared for any and all contingencies. And btw, it's been moved and used more than you state.


Posted: August 27th, 2013 5:13 PM

@ Bob Stangel. I never once mentioned racial profiling, that is illegal. Learn how to read.

Can this be happening from oak park  

Posted: August 27th, 2013 5:00 PM

@know what you're talking about... I'm well aware of what a fleet is but one must question why the village has over 20 unmarked cars for one and second, we must compare our resources vs. our neighboring communities. By the way, the green swat van was only moved when the lot was resurfaced!!! Sounds like you must be in vehicle sales to me... You selling the Chargers or Explorers??? I see we purchased a few new ones in the last several weeks, you must be enjoying the comission

OP Transplant  

Posted: August 27th, 2013 2:45 PM

The fear of being called racist, or of being accused of profiling, causes officer to be reactive instead of proactive. We've all see groups of young people who looked to be up to no good, or who affected a thug image. Cops should interact with them, or keep an eye on them. It's done in cities all over the US. The reason that police use profiling is that profiling is an effective strategy to prevent crime. A "friendly" interaction with police can make a person less likely to commit a crime.


Posted: August 27th, 2013 2:44 PM

So, "Done in Oak Park," you called OPPD the DAY AFTER witnessing a drug deal, and you complain they haven't gotten back to you?..... Next time, try calling 911. You'll get a more immediate response, if for no other reason that that the police know there may actually be a chance the perps are still in the vicinity.

Violet Aura  

Posted: August 27th, 2013 2:34 PM

Cont. affect OP in any way. I wonder if they rode the Red Line to the Green Line station and came into town that way? Why do people talk on their $500 phones on the street? It's like waving a wad of hundred dollar bills in the air!

Violet Aura  

Posted: August 27th, 2013 2:32 PM

Those of us in the know realize that this sort of thing happens all over OP. What I find significant in both these thefts is that they were located by the El. One by the Green Line and the other by the Blue Line. At first I assumed that since the perp was on a bike that it could not tie into the train but duh! I take my bike on the train all the time. Doesn't anyone else find it a bit odd that the first case involved people from so far away? I was wondering if the recent Red Line closure would


Posted: August 27th, 2013 1:36 PM

I meant to say "in custody" not "in company"


Posted: August 27th, 2013 1:34 PM

@gee charlotte, It appears that YOU are the one who needs help when you actually corroborate my post.1) A serious crime WAS committed 2) A suspect is STILL at large 3) If the police have 3 suspects in company, you can be pretty sure that the police know who the 4th suspect is. Whether or not the police ask for the public's help is irrelevant. If they or oakpark.com would have given us a description of the offender, the public could have helped. So you're both uniformed and incapable of reading..

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: August 27th, 2013 1:21 PM

I'd also like to see them beef up security at known locations that have had reported drug transactions before a shooting occurs someday - at like perhaps Longfellow Park and up and down Madison. I'm pretty sure OPPD knows where these spots are.

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: August 27th, 2013 1:18 PM

FYI - about a month ago I witnessed a drug deal at the corner of Jackson and Cuyler at about 8:30 in the evening. I did not have my phone on me at the time - I now carry it at all times when at Longfellow Park. I called the next morning to report it, was transferred to Officer Jacobsen's phone and left him a message about the incident and to please call me as soon as he had a chance. Still waiting on that phone call. And this is far from the first drug deal in front of Longfellow Park.

Bob Stangel  

Posted: August 27th, 2013 1:07 PM

Mares, it is obvious you have no experience in law enforcement and probably little in local government. You can profile behavior not an ethnicity/race first off, secondly the chief has a boss if you don't remember and if you think every chief does things as they see fit I'd like to sell you an iPhone, a bridge or anything you'd be willing to buy from me...because you're gullible.

Gee Charlotte  

Posted: August 27th, 2013 1:03 PM

Since you need help with understanding what Ashley wrote...she actually gave THREE criteria which they use for race of a suspect to be reported. Also, if you read the article you could note that of 4 suspects 3 of them are in custody. So you don't need any information about them and if you want it, stop being lazy and look them up at the County. Again, as Ashley implied, you have nothing to verify that WJ has a more detailed description of the suspect that got away. Uninformed yet opinionated?

Know what you're talking about  

Posted: August 27th, 2013 12:53 PM

@ Can This Really Be Happening: What you saw is called a fleet. If you knew what you were talking about you'd be thankful that all of your fleet isn't out inservice at one time. What do you drive when your car is in the shop? Did you not think that squad cars needs maintenance as well? Or do you suspect somehow that squad cars being used 24 hrs/day on all shifts will not exhaust the vehicle's life. By the way, I've seen that van used several times.


Posted: August 27th, 2013 12:45 PM

Ashley does have a point. If apprehended, you can google an offender's name + mugshot on the interwebs quite easily to find out race. Home addresses are typically a giveaway too. In this case, all 3 offenders were black. Looks like Edmen was also booked back in April for domestic battery.


Posted: August 27th, 2013 11:54 AM

@ashley, so strong armed robberies are not serious in your mind? Not saying the ethnicity of the offender is both wrong and dangerous for those of us who live here that have to deal with these thugs on a NOW constant basis.


Posted: August 27th, 2013 11:34 AM

"It's hard to prevent crime with OP PD's 'see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil' method of patrolling. It prevents lawsuits but not crime!" When you have a moment, "Bob," please enlighten us all on exactly HOW the OP cops have a 'see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil' method of patrolling." Because a brief listen to the scanner and/or a review of arrest reports shows that's anything but the truth. Yours is a truly ridiculous, particularly uninformed comment.

Concerned Citizen from Oak Park   

Posted: August 27th, 2013 10:03 AM

The officers of the Oak Park PD are out there patrolling the streets, alleys, etc. and doing a great job.


Posted: August 27th, 2013 9:52 AM

We report the race of a suspect only when a serious crime has been committed, the suspect is still at large, and police have provided us with a detailed physical description of the suspect as they seek the public's help in making an arrest.

Ray Simpson from Oak Park  

Posted: August 27th, 2013 7:56 AM

I am not suggesting that the victims here should be packing heat! I am suggesting that with concealed carry the bad guys would not know. Just the existence of the law will give perps second thought. A couple small, obviously defenseless, women with the ability to defend themselves might convince thugs to find more passive victims. Or, a new line of work.

OP Rez  

Posted: August 26th, 2013 11:32 PM

muriel, I can't wait a decade or 2 for the village to be finally safe for my kids (who will be adults by then) to walk about in. Please tell me your plan.

OP Rez  

Posted: August 26th, 2013 11:30 PM

Cont. is not exactly the way to stay safe. muriel, are you saying Oak Parkers should start funding these community activities with tax money? Many Oak Parkers can barely pay the extortionate amount of taxes right now as it is. Who's responsibility is it to fund these programs? There is a culture of people from "Chicago" coming in and robbing/beating people... Very real dangers. What is your short term strategy to address this cultural change?

OP Rez  

Posted: August 26th, 2013 11:25 PM

muriel, providing positive activities and revitalizing poor and dysfunctional communities are important objectives and long term goals. They are good ideas, but will not make a huge difference in the short term. It also takes a substantial force from within those communities to activate such activities and cultural changes, which is not happening on a wide scale right now. The objective of Oak Parkers here is to keep their families and loved ones safe... Going into dangerous communities etc...

Bruce DeViller from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: August 26th, 2013 9:34 PM

RE: the incident on East Avenue, the description of the offender, as described from the radio dispatcher to OP police officers was "a male white with blond hair".

Rich from Oak Park  

Posted: August 26th, 2013 9:18 PM

I would like to think that if good paying jobs were more abundant, there would be more hope for a good future, and then less low level crime would be committed. I would also like to think that if phone companies had a kill switch system for phones, then the phones would not be worth stealing in the first place. Right now, phone companies don't want the burden of saying NO to criminals entering their store will stolen phones, and they also profit from selling replacement phones a full list.

muriel schnierow from Oak Park,Illinois  

Posted: August 26th, 2013 8:37 PM

the black community has hit hard times. 2 things might help- Home Visitation for birthmothers, and maybe revive the CCC so these young men have something productive to do. What do you think?

OP Rez  

Posted: August 26th, 2013 8:36 PM

Gail, I agree that OPPD do a good job, but the wasteful spending on the village's part, on things that we really don't need, could go to things like police overtime and technology that would provide more safety for residents and visitors. I feel like the village only cares about attracting business and things like heated granite side walks... and cares little about truly addressing the problem of crime in our village. Their political correctness is getting the best of all of us.

Gail Moran from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: August 26th, 2013 7:49 PM

Thank you Oak Park PD and CTA officers in your quick communication and apprehending of the iPhone-grabbing offenders. I personally think our police do a great job (I've had experience as did a boarder of mine), but they can't be omnipresent. And the comments about the affordable housing development on Madison Street are off topic and offensive.


Posted: August 26th, 2013 7:13 PM

Charlotte, you forgot about the new wig store that moved into the old Walgreens! Speaking of Walgreens, note that they have given up renting out stores on Madison & Oak Park yet part of the plan of the Grove street housing project depends on retail stores on the first floor. Wait to see how that works out!


Posted: August 26th, 2013 7:07 PM

Everyone who reads this story knows the perpetrator's were black but oakpark.com isn't allowed to say that for fear of retribution from the black community. Everyone knows that the majority of the crimes committed in Oak Park are by blacks. The police hand's are tied. If they stop someone who is suspicious, they're called racist profiler's. Wait and see what happens when the low income housing debacle on Madison is finished. It will fit in nicely with all the hair weave and nail places.


Posted: August 26th, 2013 6:33 PM

It's hard to prevent crime with OP PD's 'see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil' method of patrolling. It prevents lawsuits but not crime!

OP Transplant  

Posted: August 26th, 2013 6:23 PM

The purse was teal and blue and the bike was black. Once again the WJ scrupulously reports every color detail that might be pertinent to the story.


Posted: August 26th, 2013 6:11 PM

Chief Tanksley, it's called profiling. If you allowed your officers on the street to use their smarts instead of the politically correct type of policing you currently impose upon them, things would be much better for the law abiding public of Oak Park.

Doug Deuchler from Oak Park  

Posted: August 26th, 2013 6:00 PM

I think many of us would love more cops all over the place but they're not volunteers.

Melissa from Oak Park  

Posted: August 26th, 2013 5:30 PM

This happened to my daughter at noon on a beautiful summer day a couple years ago on 200 block of N Elmwood.....cops were great, perps caught, neighbors testified, but I'd be all for more presence.....perhaps on bikes.?

Can this really be happening in OP from Oak Park  

Posted: August 26th, 2013 4:20 PM

I walk my dog pass village hall everyday, one night I counted over 50 police vehicles (if you include the green SWAT van that hasn't moved in years), sounds like it's time to put some police officers in them instead of having them parked in neat rows

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