Police found several graffiti tags containing known gang signs throughout Forest Park last week, mostly between April 15 and 17.
Tags were found on the 800 block of Beloit Avenue, the 1500 block of Harlem Avenue, the 900 and 1100 blocks of Lathrop Avenue and at six locations at the park district site at 7501 Harrison St.
Much of the graffiti included symbols used by the Latin Kings gang, and most used blue spray paint.
“It’s definitely a pattern,” said Police Chief James Ryan. “Usually when you see this pop up real quickly there’s someone new to the area trying to make his presence known…if he plans on recruiting he wants to go out and stake out his territory.”
Many of the tags have appeared on residential garage doors, which Ryan said are often seen as “giant blank canvasses to paint on,” and are also attractive because they are often concealed by darkness in alleys.
Ryan said the police department plans on keeping an extra eye out for graffiti taggers due to the recent trend.
“You can increase patrols in alleys and in parks and if you see someone who looks like they don’t belong it doesn’t hurt to stop them,” he said.
Drunks fall asleep at the wheel
Officer Scott O’Kane responded to a call reporting a man asleep in a vehicle at the intersection of Desplaines Avenue and Roosevelt Road early in the morning on April 15. He found the car running in drive with the keys in the ignition, and the driver, Michael S. Hahn of River Forest, sleeping in the driver’s seat with both hands on the steering wheel.
When police managed to awaken Hahn, they noticed the smell of alcohol on his breath and asked him to exit the car. According to a police report, he lost his balance while exiting the car. His responses were at first unintelligible, but he eventually denied that he had been drinking and then said “maybe I hadn’t drunk enough.”
Hahn refused to take a field sobriety test. Police discovered that his license was revoked due to a previous DUI conviction, and he was issued a felony DUI charge and misdemeanors for driving with a revoked license and without insurance.
A couple of hours later on the same morning, Sgt. Michael Murphy saw a car stopped in the middle of the street on the 7500 block of Jackson Boulevard. The car’s engine was running, and the car was in drive, with the driver, later identified as Ryan Roman, sleeping with his foot on the brake.
Murphy turned off the ignition and upon waking Roman immediately smelled alcohol. When questioned, Roman insisted he was in the “suburb of Buffalo Grove.” Roman’s blood alcohol content was measured at .190. Police found that his license was suspended for a DUI arrest in Palatine. He was given a felony DUI charge and was also charged with having a blood alcohol content higher than the legal limit and improperly parking on a roadway.
Drunk driver hits fire engine
A car driven by a drunk driver struck an Oak Park fire engine at 601 Harlem Ave. on April 15. Officer Scott McLintock responded, and met with Lt. William Henry of the Oak Park Fire Department. Henry said that after striking his fire engine, the driver, identified as Lawrence Lahner of Downers Grove, continued driving at about five miles-per-hour until grinding to a halt.
Lahner’s car had heavy front end damage, and the front doors could not open. A half empty 750 ml bottle of Smirnoff vodka was visible in the car’s armrest, which was stuck open. Lahner said he did not know what had happened, but admitted that he had been drinking. As he exited the car he had to hold on to keep his balance.
Police could not perform field sobriety tests because Lahner was unable to stand on his own. A breathalyzer test showed his blood alcohol content at .327. He was charged with driving under the influence and having a blood alcohol content above the legal limit.
Man steals keys from conductor
Officer Ken Gross and Sgt. Steve Zanoni responded to reports of a theft with an offender still on the scene on April 21. Upon arriving at the CTA station at 711 Desplaines Ave., they met with a CTA yard manager, and were told that the train had been preparing to take passengers eastbound to Chicago but the conductor was missing the key that was needed to control the train.
Three passengers then reported seeing Sammie Harrison, a homeless man, enter the conductor’s booth and take the key. Harrison said he did not know anything about a key, but a homeless woman next to him told officers that she had the key. When she stopped looking for the key, police looked in a duffel bag on the floor next to them and found it.
Harrison was charged with theft and disorderly conduct.
These items were taken from the records of the Forest Park Police Department between April 15 and April 22 and represent only a portion of the incidents to which police responded. Anyone named in this report has only been charged with a crime. The cases have not yet been adjudicated.
Compiled by Seth Stern