Stool pigeon scam lays an egg
It isn’t often that someone who gets scammed out of money by a con artist gets a chance to get even. But that’s apparently what happened earlier this month, when a victim, taken for $2,000 in Forest Park, set a trap that snared the man who allegedly took his money.
On Aug. 31, a 50-year-old Bellwood man got what seemed like an offer that was too good to pass up. At a party that night, he met someone who said he had a friend who could get him deep discounts on electronic equipment.
The man gave his friend his phone number and someone named “Frank” called him back, instructing the man to go to the Walmart at 1300 Desplaines Ave. in Forest Park on Sept. 1.
In exchange for $2,000 in cash, the man would receive a 65-inch flat panel TV, two 47-inch TVs and three iPads.
When the victim arrived at the store, he called “Frank,” who directed him to an aisle where there was a large contractor-style clipboard that had a compartment for paperwork. “Frank” told the victim to place the envelope filled with cash inside the compartment and remove another envelope already there.
Then “Frank” told the victim to head to the customer service area and wait there. After waiting at the customer service area for a few minutes, the victim sensed something was wrong and called “Frank,” who failed to answer his phone. The victim then went back to the clipboard, but his envelope of cash was gone.
That night, the victim went to another party and met a female friend of his who happened to mention that she was about to get a great deal on some electronics through a guy named “Frank.”
The light bulb lit up, and he hatched a scheme to nail the man who made a dupe of him.
The victim enlisted his wife to take the place of his female acquaintance and convinced another male friend to serve as an in-store lookout for “Frank,” who would be giving directions by phone.
This time, “Frank” chose Best Buy, 2358 Harlem Ave. in North Riverside, as the hunting ground for his next pigeon.
On Sept. 2 about 5 p.m., the victim’s wife entered Best Buy and began receiving directions from “Frank,” who told her to go to the appliance area and put her envelope in a refrigerator and take the envelope already inside the refrigerator to the computer department.
Meanwhile, the victim’s lookout trailed “Frank” and noticed that he had come into the store with another man. The lookout reportedly heard “Frank” give directions to the victim’s wife over the phone.
His alleged accomplice noticed the lookout and attempted to flee the store, but the lookout confronted him outside, and store security detained him. Meanwhile, security also corralled “Frank,” who turned out to be Jesse Martin, 35, of Chicago.
Police charged Martin with one count of theft by deception. Police also reportedly identified Martin as being one of two men caught on a surveillance video inside the Forest Park Walmart at the time of the Sept. 1 pigeon drop. Police reported recovering evidence of phone calls and text messages to and from the victim’s phone on Martin’s cellphone.
Stolen racing bikes in stuck van
A 40-year-old Maywood man’s 2001 Chevy van ran out of gas in the 1000 block of North Boulevard and was stuck with the alarm blaring until someone contacted the police around 4 p.m. on Sept. 18. Oak Park police noticed two specialized racing bicycles in the back seat. The police officer noticed a registration tag on a yellow Le Mond racing bike worth $1,600 and contacted the owner, who said it had been stolen from a garage in the 7400 block of Franklin in Forest Park. The second bike was a $600 Sirrus bicycle. Oak Park police also found a pair of bolt cutters and a Garmin GPS unit in the van. The man reportedly confessed to Forest Park police that he stole the bicycles and was charged with theft.
Pink purse with heroin
A 21-year-old woman from Schaumberg and her male and female friends from Roselle were stopped in Forest Park in the 600 block of Marengo around 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 17 after neighbors complained that their black 2006 Scion was parked on the street for 15 minutes. When police arrived on the scene, the vehicle allegedly began to flee southbound down the street until it was boxed in by another Forest Park squad.
When police approached the car, the female driver allegedly said, “I’m sorry, I was scared.” When asked if she had anything that would prompt her to flee, she allegedly said, “Yea, I got two bags [of heroin] in that pink purse.”
Police recovered several bags of heroin from the purse as well as two hypodermic syringes and an aluminum can with a burnt underside. The other two passengers also had drugs on their persons. They reportedly told police they had purchased heroin and cocaine at Chicago and Christina avenues in Chicago and traveled to the 600 block of Marengo to use them.
The three were charged with possession of narcotics.
These items were obtained from the records of the Forest Park Police Department, Aug. 30-Sept. 17, and represent a portion of the incidents to which police responded. Unless otherwise indicated, anyone named in the report has only been charged with a crime.
-Compiled by Jean Lotus and Bob Uphues