Police district using Twitter to help solve local package thefts
by BRIAN NADIG
The 16th (Jefferson Park) Police District is using Twitter and e-mail blasts to help solve cases of missing packages from porches as well as other crimes on the Northwest Side.
It was reported at the March 22 meeting of the 16th District Advisory Committee that the district is using social media and other electronic communications to share videos with residents that show suspected thieves taking delivery packages. The videos are usually from surveillance cameras at the victim’s home.
A 40-year-old man was arrested in connection with the alleged theft of a package from a home in the 5000 block of North New England Avenue, after an off-duty sergeant reportedly recognized the suspect from the video which the district sent out via e-mail, according to police.
The video showed the alleged theft taking place on March 19, and the suspect was arrested two days later after the sergeant reportedly saw the suspect in the 5500 block of New England, police said. The suspect was identified by police as John D. Piurkowski, of the 6900 block of West Foster Avenue.
The district’s Twitter handle, which is @ChicagoCAPS16, recently showed videos of reported thefts from homes near Devon and Caldwell avenues and Montrose and Austin avenues.
Meanwhile, there were 21 vehicle thefts in the district during a 4-week reporting period that ended March 18 compared to 32 during the same period last year.
District captain Hootan Bahmandeji said that the decrease might be related to the milder weather in recent weeks.
Many of the car thefts resulted from the owner leaving the vehicle unattended while the engine was warming up, Bahmandeji said.
"They run in, and they run out, and it’s gone," he said.
In a Feb. 10 incident, a man reported that he returned to his car that he left with the engine running in the 4400 block of North Mulligan Avenue and saw an individual sitting in his vehicle, and that a second male who implied he had a weapon arrived, police said.
Both individuals fled, but officers caught one of them by following his footprints in the snow, police said. The suspect was identified as a 15-year-old male.
In other news, the district recently held outdoor roll calls at three parks in an effort to show a stronger police presence during a time in which more people are expected to use the parks during spring break, Bahmandeji said.
The district will hold a child safety seminar at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 17, at the Copernicus Center, 5216 W. Lawrence Ave. The topics will include sexual abuse warning signs and Internet safety.
The committee honored officers Treston Schoeney and Phuong Tran for their Jan. 27 arrest of a man who reportedly robbed a woman while she was walking in the 4800 block of West School Street. The suspect was apprehended following a foot chase.
Also in the district, the Chicago Police Department’s Bomb and Arson Unit and the Chicago Fire Department were called to investigate a report of a suspicious delivery package on March 28 at a home on Menard Avenue between Milwaukee and Bryn Mawr avenues.
The package was determined to be safe as it contained purses that the resident had forgotten she ordered from overseas, said lieutenant John Garrido.