A woman unloading items from her minivan in the driveway of her Elgin Avenue home was startled when two unidentified men jumped into the idling vehicle and drove off.

Shortly before 2 p.m. on May 21, the vehicle’s owner had parked the dark green Toyota Sienna in the driveway of her Elgin Avenue home on the 1300 block to unload several items. According to a police report, while she was placing several boxes in her garage, two men appeared from a nearby alley and took off in the van, heading north. Authorities were called to the scene by the woman’s brother, whom she had called to report the incident.

Twice in eight days

A Brookfield man who allegedly left the scene of an accident was found moments later and charged with several traffic violations after cooking up a story to explain the damage to his vehicle.

According to a police report, Peter J. Bensfield, 45, smelled of alcohol and had a difficult time standing upright when investigators caught up to him on May 20, shortly before 11 p.m. Bensfield allegedly tried to explain that the front end of his Ford Explorer had been damaged after he had a blowout, but officers observed that all four of the suspect’s tires were fully inflated. A computer check revealed that Bensfield’s license had been suspended by the state just eight days prior following an arrest for drunk driving.

Bensfield refused to submit to field sobriety tests, citing “bad knees,” and later refused to take a breathalyzer test. He was charged with driving under the influence, failing to reduce his speed, disobeying a traffic signal and driving without insurance.

Drugs, needles found at gas station

A man and a woman parked at a gas station on Harlem Avenue raised suspicions when the two were observed by police acting strangely in their vehicle. Following up on their hunch, police discovered a cache of drugs and paraphernalia that lead to felony charges.

Shortly before 10 p.m. on May 23, officers saw the suspects in a 1993 Cadillac Deville parked at Thornton’s gas station, an area known for a high level of drug activity. When officers approached the car, according to a department report, they observed a crack pipe sitting in an ash tray. Donald Scott Pande, 45, of Schaumburg, allegedly admitted to police he had a quantity of heroin in his boot and a needle in his pocket.

The woman in the car, 22-year-old Alicia R. Sartain, of Chicago, allowed police to search the vehicle where they allegedly found a syringe in the front passenger’s seat where Sartain had been sitting. In the trunk of the vehicle, police discovered, tucked underneath the carpet, a box with 18 syringes, a razor blade, cotton swabs, a lighter, steel wool and eight foil packets of heroin.

Once in custody, Pande allegedly told police the drugs belonged to him and that he did not want Sartain to get in trouble. Sartain refused to give a statement.

All in the family

A mother and her 17-year-old daughter were charged with theft after the pair allegedly swapped the price tags at a clothing store on May 19.

According to a police report, authorities were called to a retailer at 7530 Roosevelt Rd. shortly before 4 p.m. where store security had detained the women. An employee of the store reported to police that the teenager, Brianda Galvez of Oak Park, pulled a $35 price tag off a pair of shoes and swapped it with another price tag marked for $13.

“Galvez did this in full view of her mother and they both left the store after paying the lower price for the shoes,” according to police.

For her role in the alleged incident, Galvez’s mother, 39-year-old Amalia Guerrero was also charged.

Vandal caught by witnesses

A 25-year-old Cicero man was arrested on drug charges and for writing graffiti after witnesses reportedly called police to report the vandalism.

According to a department report, just before 2 a.m. on May 25, Carl R. Zeller was seen using a black marker to write on the exterior of a building at 410 Ferdinand Ave., underneath a window sill. The witnesses allegedly watched Zeller write on the building after parking their car at a nearby McDonald’s.

Patrol units in the area discovered Zeller was at the Sub-Tender restaurant on Desplaines Avenue after matching a description of the vehicle used in the vandalism with a vehicle at the sub shop. According to police, the suspect had ink from a black marker on his hands.

In addition to the writing device, police found a small quantity of marijuana and a pipe in Zeller’s possession, according to the report.

These items were taken from the records of the Forest Park Police Department between May 18 and May 25, 2007 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