Authorities in three west suburban communities are looking for a man suspected of pulling off a series of strong-arm robberies. Further, police say although violence has not been used yet, it remains a major concern.
Dating back to Aug. 29, 2006, an unidentified man has walked into convenience stores, pharmacies and other retailers under the guise of making a small purchase before emptying the cash register and fleeing on foot. In Forest Park, Det. Scott Frey said one suspect has been linked to four separate incidents dating back to October. Most recently, Frey said, the perpetrator robbed a Walgreens on Roosevelt Road April 22. Surveillance cameras have been able to capture clear images of the suspect at several locations of the alleged crimes, but police are now looking for the public to help identify the man.
“For us, the good news is that he hasn’t implied a weapon,” Frey said. “The important thing is to catch him because these things do escalate.”
Allegedly, just days before striking the Walgreens in Forest Park on April 22, the same suspect may have brandished a “silver revolver” during a heist in Berwyn. Frey said Forest Park investigators showed surveillance camera images of that robbery to the cashier involved in the April 22 crime, but were not able to get a positive identification. Also, Frey questioned why the suspect would suddenly flash a gun in Berwyn when it appears that no gun was used during the robberies in Forest Park.
However, Frey said there are obvious similarities between the crimes and the suspect captured by surveillance cameras in Berwyn does bear a likeness to the suspect caught on tape in Forest Park.
Police believe the suspect robbed White Hen stores in Forest Park on Oct. 30 and Nov. 24 of last year. Authorities said the village was struck again on Jan. 20 when the man robbed a Walgreens.
In neighboring Oak Park, police suspect the same unidentified man robbed a White Hen in that community along Harlem Avenue on Aug. 29, 2006. He later robbed a CVS pharmacy along Roosevelt Road on Nov. 27 and on April 5 of 2007 struck again at a Walgreens on Roosevelt Road, according to police.
“The guy would make a small purchase then reach over and grab the cash when they opened the register,” Oak Park Deputy Chief Bob Scianna said. “In one case he showed a gun. He implied it in the other cases.”
According to Frey, the culprit says very little to the cashier and simply instructs them to be still and quiet. In all the Forest Park crimes the cashier was a young woman who had been working at the store a relatively short time. Police suspect the man lives in the area and is able to familiarize himself with his targets before striking.
Authorities are describing the alleged culprit as a black man in his late 20s or early 30s, about 5-feet 9-inches tall and roughly 170 pounds. In Forest Park, anyone with information is encouraged to call the police department’s tip line at (708) 366-2323 ext. 105.