Users distracted by electronic devices vulnerable to thieves


A recent robbery on a CTA bus illustrates how important it is for users of smart phones and other electronic devices in public to be aware of their surroundings, according to 16th (Jefferson Park) Police District commander James O’Donnell.

“That’s the problem with using these electronic devices,” O’Donnell said at the July 17 meeting of the 16th District Advisory Committee. “They’re not paying attention to what’s going on around them. It’s crime of opportunity. They snatch them and they’re off.”

A 16-year-old youth was arrested at about 1 p.m. Monday, June 25, after he allegedly grabbed a Kindle electronic book reader from a man who was riding a bus on Irving Park Road, according to police. The 36-year-old man unsuccessfully chased the youth, but officers later arrested the suspect after he was seen carrying a Kindle near Montrose and Central avenues, police said.

It also was reported that officers stopped a car that had been reported stolen and that was occupied by two juvenile gang members and an 18-year-old man on July 9 near Belle Plaine and Milwaukee avenues. One of the occupants fled on foot but was arrested a short time later in the 4000 block of North Cicero Avenue, police said.

The man, who was identified by police as Justin Lilly, of the 5300 block of West Foster Avenue, was charged with criminal trespass to a vehicle, police said.

It also was reported that a 19-year-old man was arrested at about 9:55 a.m. Wednesday, June 13, after a witness reported that he saw the man check the doors of cars which were parked near Central and Lawrence avenues and remove items from two of the vehicles. The suspect, who was identified by police as Samuel C. Morales, of the 5200 block of North Leclaire Avenue, had an iPod that allegedly was taken from one of the cars, police said.

Police also are questioning a man in connection with a string of purse snatching incidents which were reported in the 16th, 17th (Albany Park) and 25th (Grand Central) districts. In some of the incidents, the assailant overpowered an elderly woman in a parking lot while she was loading groceries or getting out of her car and then fled in a red Dodge van that had been reported stolen and that recently was recovered in the 11th (Harrison) District, police said.

It also was announced that the number of robberies reported in the 16th District this year through July 15 is 93, compared to 89 during the same period in 2011 and 78 in 2010, while the number of burglaries this year is 387, down from 455 in 2011 and 474 in 2010, and the number of motor vehicle thefts is 339, up from 318 in 2011 and 270 in 2010.

Also at the meeting, the committee honored Craig Castro, Robert Young, Nebojsa Vuletic and Garett Suderski as officers of the month for their arrests of two suspects in a home invasion that occurred in the 6300 block of North Milwaukee Avenue on May 3. The officers apprehended one of the suspects on a platform at the CTA Harlem Avenue station.

The 16th District is holding a burglary seminar and a town hall meeting from 7 to 9 p.m. today, July 25, at the Copernicus Cultural and Civic Center, 5216 W. Lawrence Ave. The district also will hold its annual “National Night Out” celebration, which will feature an antique car show and a family swim, from 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 7, at Norwood Park, 5801 N. Natoma Ave.

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