On Sunday, Feb. 7, 2010, Laura Knitt was the victim of a “pickpocket” crew that was able to tap her open purse and surreptitiously steal her wallet as she exited the front doors of Bed, Bath and Beyond, located at 215 Harlem Ave in Forest Park.

In last week’s Forest Park Review, Ms. Knitt chose to write a letter to the Opinion section of the Forest Park Review, which was headlined “Forest Park Police fail to solve theft.”

This letter was obviously drafted to express her dissatisfaction in our performance in handling her theft case.

I wish Ms. Knitt would have called me or another supervisor to vent her frustration in how her theft case was handled by the Forest Park Police, since it was one of my detectives that was assigned to her case.

According to the assigned detective, he stated that he called her and spoke with her directly on the telephone in at least two instances in reference to her case. Due to the heavy case load the detectives carry, in some instances it does take time to get to assigned cases. I would like to clarify some of the issues that Ms. Knitt mentioned in her letter.

River Forest did have a similar pickpocketing/theft, and since we work closely with River Forest detectives, we received their video the day after it happened. Since the archived video from Bed Bath and Beyond is of such poor quality and is pixilated beyond repair, there is no real way to compare offenders with the River Forest case.

In Ms. Knitt’s unfortunate case, the only crime that falls within Forest Park’s jurisdiction is the actual pickpocketing, or theft. In most instances, the suspect pickpocket usually passes the cards to people who will use the cards as soon as possible and in some cases, within minutes of the pickpocketing.

This ensures that the cards will still be active before the victim realizes they have been victimized and reports the cards stolen. From past cases, it is rare that the pickpocket is the one that also uses the credit card. According to the detective assigned this case, Ms. Knitt was advised to call the other jurisdictions where her credit cards were used, since the actual unlawful use of her credit cards was not in Forest Park’s jurisdiction.

In the original police report filed by Knitt to the patrol officer, it states “Knitt was unable to provide me with any further description of the offenders (besides a male and female African American) but would sign complaints.” Not much to go on.

In order to determine which cases are assigned to a detective, the Forest Park Police Department Criminal Investigations Division utilizes what is called a “case screening report.”

This screening incorporates “solvability factors” in order to determine which criminal offenses will be investigated and in the order that they are investigated. Due to the poor quality of the incident video and that, in Ms. Knitt’s case, she could not even describe the alleged offenders other than race and gender, it was questionable whether the case even met the solvability factors warranting further investigation. It was assigned nonetheless.

The detective, working with limited evidence and resources in relation to Knitt’s case, did contact and work with detectives from the other jurisdictions in order to help them with their subsequent cases related to Ms. Knitt’s original theft.

It is always easy to externalize, but victims of crimes should do a self-assessment and explore why they might have been targeted. If you were targeted once, you might again be a victim. Be alert. Always be perceptive of people who are acting suspicious, and remove yourself from situations and areas that make you uneasy. Those are good instances to go with your gut instinct and one of the biggest ways to take a step toward crime prevention.

Citizens should be aware of their surroundings and secure their belongings at all times.

Detective Sgt. Michael Keating
Forest Park Police

Letters to the editor

Letters to the editor should include the author’s first and last name, town of residence and phone number for authorization purposes only. The Review will not publish phone numbers. All letters are subject to editing for space and content purposes and typically will be printed in the order they are received. While the Review does not impose a word limit, we encourage comments be held to 300 words.

Letters to the editor can be received by e-mail at helenk@wjinc.com, or by mail to Forest Park Review, 141 S. Oak Park Ave., Oak Park, Ill., 60302.