Older residents are targets in area scams
by BRIAN NADIG
A burglary in which assailants kept the victim from fleeing his home by holding down his wheelchair is one of several crimes targeting older residents in the 16th (Jefferson Park) Police District.
District commander Maureen Biggane addressed several crime issues at the Aug. 25 meeting of the Jefferson Park Neighborhood Association. She said that assailants often gain entry into the homes of seniors by posing as a utility worker, sometimes with a clipboard, or a contractor working in the area.
In a June 22 incident near Foster and Osceola avenues, three men gained entry to a home be pretending to need hot water for a nearby construction project, and that once the homeowner realized he was being deceived, one of the men held his wheelchair so that he could not flee while the other two searched the home for jewelry, according to police.
The intruders fled in a pickup truck, but with the help of a surveillance video, officers were able to later arrest all of the suspects, police said.
Biggane asked association to inform 911 operators if they have surveillance film that could assist in an investigation because even a glimpse of a vehicle or a person can "give us a pattern to work off of."
"If you have video footage, that’s really helpful, and we’ll send someone to you to get it," Biggane said.
In another recent scam, a 79-year-old woman reported that a message popped up on her computer screen demanding $199 to unlock the computer and that she called the number and used a credit card to pay the money.
The woman told police that she later realized something was wrong because she was being asked for too much personal information, according to police. She was able to get the transaction canceled, police said.
Also at the meeting, Biggane said the district is conducting missions to help combat problems of bike thefts at the Jefferson Park CTA Terminal, 4917 N. Milwaukee Ave., and the Harlem CTA terminal, 5550 N. Harlem Ave. About 20 bikes thefts were reported at those terminals in July and August, and in once incident a bicycle was stolen from the front of a bus where a passenger attached it on the storage rack.
Community policing sergeant Jeff Aaron asked residents to keep a watchful eye on the blocks where they live and to report suspicious behavior. "You are our biggest resource," he said. "I encourage all of you to look out for your neighbors."
Aaron also cautioned about incorrect crime information that can be quickly spread via social media. "It’s the snowball effect," he said. "It just gets picked up, and it is shared."
Aaron said that residents could contact the community policing office if they have questions about crime issues in their neighborhood by calling 312-742-4521 or sending an e-mail to caps016district@ chicagopolice.org.
The district also posts a variety of information on its Twitter and Facebook pages, Biggane said.