Police are warning business owners in Forest Park of an aggressive burglar who is thought to be the culprit behind at least three break-ins in recent weeks. The man has been videotaped by security cameras on several occasions, but authorities said they have yet to identify him.
“We have video of this guy doing at least three different jobs, we just don’t know who the hell he is,” Sgt. Mike Keating, who heads the detective unit, said.
One of those surveillance tapes dates to March 9 and, according to police, clearly shows the suspect and an accomplice using a screwdriver to try and pry open a set of entry doors. The man was not able to get inside the office building on the village’s south side, police said, but it is the second time that location was targeted.
The owner of that business estimated that some $7,000 in equipment was stolen in late January when the burglar was able to get inside.
Businesses in Forest Park first received a flyer several weeks ago, said Chief Jim Ryan, recommending that a deadbolt be installed on glass doors that meet in the middle of the entry. It is apparently very easy to defeat the locking mechanism on these doors without necessarily causing much damage.
“Some people don’t even know they’ve been burglarized,” Keating said.
Authorities said they believe Theisse Plumbing, 1223 Circle, and a U.S. Cellular store at 7610 Roosevelt, were also recently struck by the same culprit.
On March 11, just two days after the suspect was last videotaped, a patrolling officer reported seeing the man along Madison. According to Ryan, the suspect was driving a full-size van in the 7400 block at about 7 a.m., and was perhaps looking for his next target. The van is described as having a two-tone paint job, gray and black in color.
Authorities said the time of day at which the van was spotted is also consistent with when they believe the break-ins are occurring.
“A time like that would probably draw less attention because there’s more activity,” Ryan said.
At the south-side business that was targeted in late January and again in March, the suspect struck just a few hours before the start of the business day. A deadbolt was responsible for finally keeping the culprit out of the building.
According to the owner, who spoke with the Review on the condition of anonymity, the extra lock was installed at the suggestion of the police department. Based on the March 9 surveillance footage, investigators learned that the culprit was again able to defeat the original lock, but could not get past the recently installed deadbolt.