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A woman living in an apartment at 413 Marengo Ave. returned home last weekend to discover her neighbor rummaging through her belongings in the midst of a burglary, according to police.

When the unsuspecting woman came home shortly before noon on Nov. 24, she found Fred Austin, 44, in her apartment. Austin, an admitted gang member, according to police, rushed at the woman causing her to flee. She quickly dialed 911 on her cellphone. However, neighbors who were alerted by her screams had already done the same.

When police arrived to sort out the commotion, they found Austin in the hallway of the building playing the role of a concerned neighbor, according to department reports. The woman was able to identify the man for police.

Once in custody, the suspect said he was simply taking out his garbage when police arrived and that he, too, had heard the screams. He is facing a single felony charge for burglary.

Faux gun suspected in robbery

An unidentified man, possibly a teenager, could face serious charges for robbing a man on the 7300 block of Randolph Street shortly before 12:30 a.m. on Nov. 21. According to a department report, the suspect stole $10 from a victim when he “had his hand in his sleeve with his fingers pointed to [the victim’s] head, pretending to be a gun.”

A search of the area did not turn up the suspect and no arrest was made in the case.

Felony theft charge pending

The alleged theft of less than $50 worth of merchandise resulted in a felony charge for 44-year-old Merdis Love of Chicago. Love, who was arrested at 3 p.m. on Nov. 23 at Kmart on Roosevelt Road, received the heavy charge because of a previous conviction for stealing, according to police.

According to a department report, security agents at the retail store watched on a closed-circuit television as Love attempted to steal a robe and a watch. The items’ total value was $46.98.

Fearing the worst

A 45-year-old Melrose Park resident riding a girl’s bicycle along Madison Street in an apparently intoxicated state prompted his arresting officer to momentarily fear for his own safety.

After watching the suspect cruise west along the sidewalk on the 7600 block, shortly before 4 p.m. on Nov. 19, the officer approached the cyclist, James Gralow, and asked how he was feeling. Gralow allegedly responded with a threat that he would kill the officer and began reaching for a bulge in his trench coat pocket.

The officer grabbed Gralow and pinned him against a squad car in an effort to gain control. After a brief struggle the suspect was handcuffed and police discovered loose clothing in the pocket, according to a report.

Gralow was charged with aggravated assault, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.

An unfair trade

Sometime between the early evening and early morning hours of Nov. 18 and Nov. 19, a white Chevrolet Malibu, parked outside of 7301 Circle Ave., was burglarized, according to police.

Authorities found no sign of forced entry and the woman who reported the crime said her remote lock has been malfunctioning, possibly leaving the vehicle unlocked overnight. The woman reportedly found a screwdriver had been jammed into the ignition, perhaps in an attempt to take the car.

Roughly 50 compact discs stored in a CD holder were taken from the car, according to a department report. Also taken were insurance and registration papers.

Oddly enough, the burglar apparently left behind a CD of their own, which was found in an otherwise empty CD holder in the back seat.

Traffic stop yields drug charges

Two Cicero residents were ordered to appear for an adjudication hearing on drug-related charges after police allegedly found two small quantities of marijuana during a traffic stop.

Alex Ramirez, 21, and Omar Vega, 20, were both cited for violating a local ordinance shortly after 5 p.m. on Nov. 25. According to police, the smell of marijuana coming from the vehicle fueled speculation that drugs were inside the car after they had stopped Vega at the corner of Harlem and Harvard streets. Both men were asked to step out of the car and allegedly admitted to having the drugs.

A marijuana cigarette was found in the center console and Ramirez had a small quantity in his jacket pocket, according to police.

These items were taken from the records of the Forest Park Police Department between Nov. 18 and Nov. 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.

-Josh Adams