Patrols intensify to combat burglaries
by BRIAN NADIG
The 16th (Jefferson Park) Police District has intensified alley patrols to help combat an increase in reported burglaries, while a home may be demolished following a recent shooting in front of it.
It was reported at the Oct. 18 meting of the 16th District Advisory Committee that in the past 4 weeks there were 40 burglaries in the district compared to 30 during same period last year. Overall there have been 404 reported burglaries in the district this year compared to 384 in 2017 and 509 in 2016.
Captain Hootan Bahmandeji said that the district has been conducting an increasing number of traffic stops of motorists who are seen driving completely through an alley instead of pulling into a garage.
Bahmandeji said that it is illegal to use an alley as a cut-through, and officers are looking for burglars who may be driving until they find an open garage.
A man reported that on Sept. 27 he forgot to close his garage door in the 3200 block of North Overhill Avenue and that footage from a security camera showed two men stealing tools from the garage as they tried to hide their faces from the camera, which they sprayed with an unknown substance, according to police.
The district has made five burglary-related arrests in the past month, Bahmandeji said. In one incident a man was arrested on Oct. 8 after he reportedly broke into a home in the 5400 block of West Cornelia Avenue while the mother and daughter who live there hid in the basement.
Since the advisory meeting, three suspected gang members were questioned in connection with area burglaries after their car crashed at about 12:25 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 23, near Foster and Neva avenues, according to police. The men were reportedly fleeing after officer Vincent Baldassano tried to conduct a traffic stop, police said.
The men fled on foot but were later apprehended, although officers were unable to find a gun which one of the men reportedly possessed, police said. Watches and other items, including reported proceeds from a burglary in the 4100 block of North Melvina Avenue, were found in the vehicle, police said.
Meanwhile, district commander William Looney said that police and city officials recently met with the owner of a home in the 5300 block of West Leland Avenue, where a man was shot several times on Sept. 18 in front of the house as part of an apparent drug deal gone awry. In April there was a report of multiple gunshots being fired from one vehicle toward another on the block.
The owner of the house is planning to sell the property, and the house will be demolished as part of the site’s future redevelopment. A tenant who lives there is being let out of her lease, Looney said. Some residents have reported seeing people from the area of the house walking toward the end of the block, where drug transactions have reportedly taken place.
It also was reported that guns were recovered during traffic stops on Sept. 10 in the 4000 block of North Laramie Avenue and on Sept. 11 in the 4400 block of North Milwaukee Avenue and the 5400 block of West Montrose Avenue.
In addition, committee members also discussed an incident in which four suspected gang members, age 17 and 18, were arrested in connection with the robbery of an elderly woman at 4:35 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 11, in the 4200 block of North Milwaukee Avenue. Police said that in recent months there have been problems with gang members in the vicinity of nearby Dickinson Park, 4101 N. Lavergne Ave. and several reports of gunfire in the area.
Also at the meeting, it was announced that officers Matthew Adams and Daniel Bacoulis were honored as the committee’s "Officer of the Month" award for the Aug. 13 arrest of three suspects in connection with a report of shots fired in the 6500 block of West Bryn Mawr Avenue.
It also was announced that Looney would be retiring on Thursday, Nov. 15, after 32 years on the police force. A new commander for the district has not been named.