A man driving a car that had been reported stolen during an armed robbery in Chicago was arrested Aug. 11 after leading police on a chase down I 290.

According to a police report, Officer Tim Adams first spotted Johnell Smith driving without a seatbelt on the 7500 block of Jackson Boulevard. When he got behind the car to run a computerized check on the 2002 Dodge Caravan’s registration, he found that the car had been reported stolen during an armed robbery in Chicago earlier the same day.

Adams followed Smith onto DesPlaines Avenue and then onto the I 290 expressway, where Smith accelerated to 85 mph in a 55 mph zone and began passing cars on the right shoulder to escape police.

He exited at 17th Avenue and continued speeding westbound on Harrison Avenue in Bellwood, dodging traffic while zooming through red lights until losing control of the car at Harrison Avenue and 24th Street.

Smith and another passenger then exited the car and fled on foot. By then, officers from Forest Park, Bellwood, Westchester and Broadview had all joined in the pursuit.

Smith was eventually found hiding in a tool shed in the yard of a home at 1106 S.23rd Ave. in Bellwood.

After being taken to the police station in Forest Park, Smith was interviewed by Forest Park police as well as detectives from the Chicago police department. The detectives also interviewed the victim of the armed robbery, a Forest Park resident.

Though the victim was unable to positively identify Smith as the perpetrator, his wife, who was the registered owner of the car, said she wanted Smith prosecuted and filed a complaint.

Smith admitted to police that he knew the car was stolen, but said that he had not been involved in the robbery.

Smith’s court date was set for Aug. 16. He will be charged with fleeing and eluding an officer, speeding, driving without a license, disobeying traffic signals, and driving without a seatbelt.

Residents restrain car thief

An officer was dispatched to Parky’s Hot Dogs at 309 Harlem Ave. after being notified of an attempted car theft that had apparently been halted by the car’s owner along with a restaurant employee.

The victim told police that she had gone to the restaurant with her grandson to eat dinner, and upon arriving sat down at an outdoor table while her grandson went inside to order.

She heard her car start, and turned around to see a man, identified as Tony Armstrong of Chicago, inside her car.

The victim ran to the passenger’s side of the car and grabbed Armstrong in an attempt to stop him from driving away. Meanwhile, another patron notified her grandson of the commotion. He then ran outside and wrestled Armstrong out of the car with the assistance of a Parky’s employee.

When searching Armstrong, police found a small amount of what appeared to be crack cocaine. Armstrong told police that he had just left his daughter’s apartment in Forest Park and was “looking for a way to get high” when he saw the victim park the 2001 Chevy Tracker and leave the keys in the center console.

Armstrong was charged with burglary and possession of a controlled substance, and has a Sept. 6 court date at Maybrook.

Vases stolen from cemetery

An assistant administrator at Woodlawn Cemetery told police that 52 bronze flower vases have been stolen from gravesites since early May.

The administrator told police that it costs Woodlawn $100 to replace each of the vases, and requested extra patrol at the cemetery.

-Compiled by Seth Stern

These items were taken from the records of the Forest Park Police Department from August 9 to August 15 and represent only a portion of the incidents to which police responded. Anyone named in this report has only been charged with a crime. These cases have not yet been adjudicated.


Two teenagers have been arrested by River Forest police in connection with an alleged carjacking that occurred in Forest Park on Aug. 7.

According to Forest Park Police Chief James Ryan, a River Forest officer in an unmarked car saw two men approach several female drivers in a suspicious manner on the night of Aug. 8.

The officer arrested the men, and while patting one of them down found a .38 caliber handgun that matched the description of the weapon used during the carjacking.

The victim of the carjacking later identified the handgun and was able to pick the suspect out of a lineup.

The suspects were aged 15 and 16, and will both be charged as juveniles.

According to a police report filed with the Forest Park police department, a resident of the 100 block of Beloit Avenue had just pulled his blue Chevrolet Impala into his garage to unload groceries when three males who appeared to be aged 15-17 approached him.

One of the suspects allegedly pointed a handgun at the victim, commanding him to turn around so he would not see his attackers’ faces.

The suspect with the gun then took the man’s keys, while another suspect took his wallet from his pocket.

While pulling the car out of the garage, the suspects hit and damaged a garage door at 1004 Ferdinand Avenue, according to the police report.

The car stolen during the incident has not yet been recovered.

-Seth Stern