by BRIAN NADIG
The 16th (Jefferson Park) Police District is reminding home owners to keep their garages secured following an increase in burglaries in the area.
“Don’t leave the service door of your garage unlocked,” 16th District commander James O’Donnell said at the Nov. 20 meeting of the 16th District Advisory Committee. “Essentially four out of every 10 burglaries is a garage. We’re focusing our efforts in the alleys, stopping a lot of the junkers, although we are not saying they are the ones who are doing it.”
O’Donnell also said that drivers should not leave garage door openers in view in their cars because thieves will steal them and use them to open the garage.
During the week of Nov. 5 to Nov. 11, 23 burglaries were reported in the district, compared to 17 during the same period last year, although the total number of burglaries this year is down from 878 to 715. O’Donnell said that at a recent crime symposium it was reported that in some suburbs there have been reports of young heroin addicts stealing from garages and cars, including one who committed 60 to 80 thefts in a day.
The district recently arrested a 16-year-old suspect who is being investigated in connection with several garage burglaries and car break-ins in the Norwood Park area. O’Donnell said that the teen, who had no criminal record, was apprehended after he left his cell phone inside a car that he had broken into and that he later told police that he was drunk at the time of the incidents.
It also was reported at the meeting that two men are being investigated in connection with up to 10 burglaries, including incidents in which an air compressor and tools were stolen from garages. The suspects, who were identified by police as Joseph L. Coleman, age 22, of the 2000 block of North Nagle Avenue, and Jonathan Pagan, age 19, of the 2600 block of North Lavergne Avenue, were charged with burglary, police said.
An off-duty police sergeant saw the suspects emerge from a gangway in the 6600 block of West Schreiber Avenue at about 3:05 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 3, and drive away, and officers stopped their van near Milwaukee and Haft avenues, according to police. Both suspects fled on foot, but one was apprehended near Nagle Avenue and Raven Street and the other was taken into custody at his residence.
It also was reported that the theft of older-model Honda Civics and Accords continues to be a problem. Thieves have used house keys and in one instance a fork to start the worn-out ignitions of the vehicles, according to police. The number of vehicle thefts in the district this year is 569, compared to 488 for the same period last year.
The committee also presented its Officer of the Month Award to officers Andrew Staszel, Margie Luczak and William Rickey for their Sept. 28 arrest of a man who was charged with impersonating a police officer. The suspect was wearing a Cook County Sheriff’s jacket and had a siren and oscillating lights on his vehicle, police said.
It also was announced that Richard Witney has been named the district’s new community policing sergeant, replace Daniel Kivel, who recently retired. The Chicago Police Department is considering a change in its community policing policy that would give more authority to each district to tailor its program to fit its needs.