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Authorities are waiting on a forensics report that may help determine whether a suspicious early morning fire at a Desplaines Avenue apartment building was intentionally set. According to a police report on the April 25 incident, police and fire officials found a charred mattress in apartment 101 at 326 Desplaines Ave., along with evidence that the home had been ransacked.

At approximately 1:30 a.m. several police officers hurried through the building in an effort to alert residents of the fire. Once inside the apartment where the flames were located, an officer noted that graffiti had been written on the walls and the bedroom was in shambles. A woman who lives at the address allegedly told authorities that just moments before the fire started she heard a man yelling and threatening to “break this door open.”

A lighter was found on the floor of the burned apartment between the bed and the nightstand, according to a department report.

Several hours earlier, police arrested Desmond M. McDuffy, 24, for allegedly breaking the windows of a Pontiac Grand Am at that address. It’s unclear who owned the vehicle, but upon viewing the graffiti in the bedroom where the fire occurred, police referred to the earlier incident in their write up of the fire.

“I feel good I busted her windows out,” McDuffy allegedly told police.

Quick, but not quick enough

A Chicago Transit Authority train was halted momentarily by police at about 1 p.m. on April 21 as investigators chased down a pair of Chicago women accused of shoplifting more than $80 worth of merchandise each from a pharmacy in Forest Park.

According to a department report, Terese Curtis and Carrie Hemphill, both 38, set off an anti-theft alarm at the CVS in the 7200 block of Circle Avenue after they had snuck several items into their backpacks.

The pair allegedly fled the store on foot and hopped onto a train at the nearby Green Line station. Officers responding to the scene told CTA officials to delay the train and upon checking the cars, police found the suspects.

Both women have prior convictions for retail theft, according to police, and both were charged with two counts of felony theft for the incident in question.

Mining for platinum at the U-Haul

Two Chicago men and a Tennessee resident are facing felony theft charges for allegedly scheming to steal the catalytic converters off of several U-Haul trucks, which were parked at a rental outlet at 801 S. Harlem Ave.

Shortly before 2 a.m. on April 22 a patrol officer became suspicious when he spotted a car parked behind a nearby restaurant with its trunk open. The area is frequently burgled, so the officer pulled into the lot and saw two of the suspects walking between the trucks parked at the U-Haul store.

Three men were taken into custody and authorities allegedly found a reciprocating saw, bolt cutters, extension cords and a portable generator in the parked car and immediate area.

Two catalytic converters had already been cut from vehicles parked at the lot, according to police. The items are valuable because they contain platinum, which can be sold to salvage yards. One of the suspects allegedly told police the stolen parts would fetch him $150 each, according to the report.

Channon Williams, 33, of Camden, Tenn., Jermaine T. Kang, 29, and Fernando Rodriguez, 21, both of Chicago, were charged in the incident. While in custody, all three men told police that the others were responsible for the thefts and that they only served as the lookout.

Taunting lands suspect in handcuffs

Shortly after police left the 800 block of Beloit Avenue after speaking with 21-year-old Roy A. Clay about being a nuisance to residents of the area, Clay was running up and down the street in his underwear, taunting homeowners, according to a police report.

“You can’t get me, you don’t know my name,” Clay allegedly yelled after dashing into 828 Beloit Ave.

Police were first called to the neighborhood at about 9:30 p.m. April 24 for a report of a fight in progress. According to a department report, Clay and his friend, 18-year-old Ashley M. Herrell, said they were only “play fighting” and that they would stop. However, neighbors told the police that the two had been obnoxious for several nights already.

Within five minutes of the leaving the area, police were called back to the scene by neighbors who complained the man was “running around in his underwear as soon as officers left the scene.”

Both Clay and Herrell, a River Grove resident, were taken into custody for disorderly conduct.

Anyone with information regarding the cases mentioned in this report, or on another matter, is encouraged to contact the department’s hotline at (708) 615-6239. Information may be left anonymously.

These items were taken from the records of the Forest Park Police Department between April 20 and April 27, 2008, 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