Citizens recognized for aiding officers in car theft incidents


The 16th (Jefferson Park) Police District Advisory Committee at its Nov. 16 meeting presented recognition awards to three citizens who assisted officers in two car theft-related incidents.

District commander William Looney said that actions of the award recipients not only played a key role in the arrests but also may have prevented additional crimes in the neighborhood if the suspects had gotten away.

Resident John Mullaney was honored for helping to locate two suspects in the reported theft of a 2009 Toyota Corolla with two small children inside at about 8 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 22, in the 5400 block of North Lovejoy Avenue. The owner was delivering newspapers and had left the car with the ignition running, police said.

One of the suspects reportedly drove off with the vehicle while his companion followed in another vehicle, according to police.

Mullaney flagged down police and told officers that he saw two vehicles speeding and that one of the cars pulled over and the driver entered a home in the 5200 block of North Laramie Avenue, police said. Both suspects were arrested a short time later.

Another honoree, resident Thomas Byrne, located the Corolla in the 5500 block of North Central Avenue and stayed with the children, ages 1 and 3, until police arrived.

Meanwhile, resident Kenneth Bachara was honored after he confronted a man who reportedly had attempted to steal his nephew’s vehicle, which had a female passenger seated in the front, at about 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 5, in the 7300 block of West Talcott Avenue.

The nephew left the engine running while he got out of the car to open a gate, and he was able to remotely turn off the ignition once he saw the suspect get into the front seat, police said.

A short time later Bachara caught up with the man and tripped him, causing the suspect to fall to the ground, police said. An off-duty K-9 police officer was in the area, and he and his dog assisted Bachara in detaining the suspect until the arresting officers arrived, police said.

"We would like to commend you for your selfless action and community involvement which thwarted a motor vehicle theft and saved the young lady inside from further danger," stated the certificate of recognition presented to Bachara.

It also was reported that the number of reported burglaries in the district in the past 4 weeks was 35, down from 44 during the same period last year. The 16th District ranks 17th in total burglaries this year out of the city’s 22 districts, but sixth in terms of burglary-related arrests, Looney said.

The rankings reflect the help which the districts gets from residents reporting suspicious behavior, and, in some instances, would-be burglars have been stopped because police are responding to a suspicious persons report prior to any break-in, Looney said.

In other matters, district officers passed out candy on Halloween outside of the Dunning Library, 7455 W. Cornelia Ave. The officers’ presence helped deter problems of graffiti, which has occurred in the area, Looney said.

District officers arrested a man who reportedly told officers that he fired a gun in the air at about 11:15 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 4, in the 6900 block of West Warwick Avenue because he is angry at the country. The man had a Ruger semi-automatic handgun, police said.

The committee’s "Officer of the Month Award" was given to Brock Merck and Sergio Corona for their Sept. 29 arrest of a man in the 3400 block of North Harlem Avenue.

The suspect reportedly possessed glass pipes, a needle, pills, $1,084 in cash and two Ziploc bags, one with suspected crack cocaine and another with suspected heroin, according to police. The arrest occurred after another told officers that a drug deal was about to take place, police said.