On Christmas Day an unidentified man crept through the aisles of a retailer closed for the holiday, swiping jewelry, DVDs, electronics and clothes. Video surveillance captured images of the thief, who apparently hid himself inside the store during business hours, waiting for the employees to clear out.
According to a police report on the incident, the suspect hid in the layaway or stockroom area of Kmart on Roosevelt Road until shortly after 2 p.m. Surveillance tapes show that the last employees left the building after an overnight shift about an hour before the burglar began making his rounds. The store had closed for business on Christmas Eve at 10 p.m., according to the report.
Police were able to watch the man rummage through a jewelry display case and the electronics department before finally grabbing a piece of luggage and a bicycle that he rode out the front door. He apparently used bolt cutters and a hammer, both sold by the store, to manipulate the locked display cases.
However, the suspect wore a black wool hat, blue face covering, sweatshirt and gloves to disguise himself, according to the report.
It was not known what time the thief entered the store.
Love triangle erupts with mugging
A jealous lover was arrested on charges of battery after allegedly mugging an ex-girlfriend and her acquaintance.
Shortly after 6 p.m. on Dec. 23, police were called to the CTA terminal on Harlem Avenue where they took a report of a “strong armed robbery.” According to a police report, 29-year-old Antwan Stokes of Oak Park saw his ex-girlfriend with another man who has been a friend of his for the past five years. The woman described her relationship with Stokes as “on again off again” for the last three years.
After shouting at the couple, Stokes allegedly punched the man in the face and ran off with the woman’s purse, according to police.
Officers from River Forest and Forest Park located the suspect a few minutes later on Lake Street in front of the Oak Park Library, where Stokes had his ex-girlfriend’s wallet in his possession. Police retrieved the purse from the bathroom of a nearby bookstore where Stokes allegedly hid the item, however, $120 in cash was never retrieved.
The woman declined to press charges for the stolen purse since most of the items were returned, but a Feb. 13 court date on the battery charge was set.
DUI suspect botches breath test
After stumbling into the arms of his arresting officer and vomiting in a holding cell, Wenceslao Mejia, of Chicago, was slapped with felony charges stemming from a traffic stop on Dec. 22.
At about 4 p.m. that day, police watched Mejia drive east on Roosevelt Road at about 15 mph, drifting in and out of the travel lanes. According to a police report, Mejia did not immediately respond to the officer’s lights and siren, but eventually pulled into a gas station at the corner of Roosevelt and Hannah streets.
When asked for his license and proof of insurance, Mejia, 31, responded that he had neither, all the while emitting a strong odor of alcohol, according to police. After fumbling with the door, Mejia fell out of his 1993 Ford F-150 where police caught him before he hit the ground. Two cans of Modelo beer were allegedly found in his jacket pockets.
During a 20 minute observation period in police custody, Mejia allegedly vomited in his cell before agreeing to a breathalyzer. After nine failed attempts to use the machine properly, police concluded Mejia “was purposely not blowing into the breath machine properly.” At 6 p.m. the suspect said his throat hurt and he refused to continue the test.
In addition to felony charges for aggravated driving while intoxicated, Mejia was also charged with open container violations, improper lane use and driving without insurance.
A reunion of sorts
A suspected thief apparently remembered his arresting officer from a previous collar, but failed to change his ways in the two months that had passed.
On Dec. 28, Frank L. Minniti, of North Riverside, was caught stealing 20 DVDs from Wal-Mart on Desplaines Avenue by a store employee. The officer called to the scene last week was the same who arrested him in October for a similar incident. Coincidentally, Minniti, 26, was warned by the same employee in October not to come back to the store after he was allegedly caught stealing, according to the report.
“I asked Minniti if he had anyone waiting for him in the parking lot,” the officer said in his report. “Minniti related the same person was waiting for him as the last time.”
Surely enough, a search of the lot turned up 27-year-old Michael Andrews sitting in the same 2003 black, two-door Acura used in the October theft.
Minniti was charged with theft and criminal trespassing. A search of Andrews’ vehicle led to drug paraphernalia charges.
These items were taken from the records of the Forest Park Police Department between Dec. 22 and Dec. 29, 2006, 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 been adjudicated.
Compiled by Josh Adams