Dodge Caravan burglary ring cracked 

Forest Park police arrested a Chicago juvenile Aug. 20 and charged him with two counts of possession of a stolen Dodge Caravan and one count of burglary, Deputy Chief Tom Aftanas said. Forest Park and neighboring Oak Park have had a rash of thefts of the popular minivan model. 

“Dodge Grand Caravans are easy to steal. And I own one myself,” said Aftanas.

In July of last year, at least seven Caravans were discovered vandalized in one week in Forest Park with steering columns peeled and ignition switches damaged. 

“Not good at stealing cars,” was Aftanas’s assessment at that time of the thief or thieves. The ring evidently honed their craft, as at least a dozen Caravans disappeared from Forest Park parking pads over the next year. Aftanas said the stolen vans were sometimes used to load up and transport loot from garage burglaries. 

Aftanas said the investigation is ongoing and he expects more arrests in the near future. 

Heartburn meds stuffed down sex offender’s pants

Forest Park police responding to a shoplifting call at Ultra Foods, 7520 Roosevelt Road around 8 p.m. Aug. 16 found a 46-year-old man in custody. Jesus Ruiz, Jr., of Chicago had allegedly stuffed five boxes of Prilosec heartburn medicine worth $72 down his pants before paying for a six-pack of beer and trying to leave the store. Ruiz reportedly struggled with store security guards who tried to slow him down, but he was finally taken into custody. Forest Park police discovered Ruiz was a registered child sex offender who was classified as homeless, Police said he had previously registered at the Cicero police station every two weeks, but had not been in since Oct. 2013. Ruiz was charged with felony retail theft, resisting and officer and failing to register as a sex offender.

Streak of auto burglaries 

More than a dozen auto burglaries were reported in Forest Park overnight Aug. 18-19.

Someone rummaged through an unlocked Hyundai Elantra parked in the 800 block of Elgin Avenue and removed spare change. A Kia was ransacked in the 900 block of Marengo. A Ford Escape was broken into in the 700 block of Lathrop (at the Park District lot) by means of a shattered rear passenger window. The steering column was tampered with, police reported. An unlocked Toyota Prius in the 800 block of Circle was ransacked. Missing were a pair of earrings and a necklace, some LED light bulbs and $30 in loose coins and bills. A Jeep Cherokee and a Dodge Caravan in the 1100 block of Hannah were also ransacked, with the Cherokee’s window smashed. A 1995 Buick Regal parked in the 1300 block of Marengo disappeared sometime between midnight and 4 a.m. An unlocked Subaru parked behind the 900 block of Dunlop was also ransacked and $15 worth of change removed. A Chevy parked in the 800 block of Elgin was ransacked. A wristwatch was removed from a ransacked vehicle parked behind the 1100 block of Lathrop Avenue. An unspecified car was ransacked in the 1100 block of Hannah Avenue and an Old Navy credit card was removed. A Chevy Cavalier was ransacked in the 7400 block of Roosevelt Road. A Dodge Caravan parked in the 100 block of Circle and a Toyota Corolla in the 900 block of Marengo were both ransacked. A Tom Tom GPS unit was stolen from a Saturn parked in the 1000 block of Elgin. 

 More auto burglaries

On Aug. 22, a resident in the 500 block of Ferdinand reported two vehicles parked behind the house had been ransacked. 

Dog on the run

On Aug. 22, police issued a local ordinance ticket to the owner of a rust-colored dog who escaped two days in a row from its yard in the 1500 block of Circle Avenue and was running at large without being registered with the village. 

Passed out at the wheel

Police received a report of “a slumper” in a running Kia stopped in the 7200 block of Washington Boulevard around 7:13 a.m. Aug. 23. They found a male driver, age 24 from Oak Park and a female passenger asleep in the car with the vehicle engaged in gear and the engine running. An officer opened the window and shifted the Kia into park. After failing field sobriety tests, the drier was transported to the Forest Park police station where he first refused to blow a Breathalyzer test, but then acquiesced and registered a .180 blood alcohol content level, over twice the legal limit. He was charged with DUI and improperly stopping/standing in the roadway

Speeding DUI

Police observed a 2013 silver Kia speeding northbound past the 900 block of Harlem Avenue traveling 73 miles per hour in a 30 mph zone around 3:25 a.m. Aug. 24. The driver, a 29-year-old Chicago man told police he was in a hurry to drop off his two female passengers. Cops observed his glassy eyes, slurred speech and a smell of alcohol. After failing field sobriety tests, he was taken to the station, where he blew a.170 blood alcohol content on the Breathalyzer, more than twice the legal limit of .08. He was charged with speeding and DUI.

Unclear on the new liquor time change rules

A 45-year-old Chicago man with 47 previous arrests for theft and three convictions showed up in the CVS at 7216 Circle Ave. and reportedly asked the cashier, “Why don’t ya’ll sell m— liquor now? M—-s used to sell it at 7 a.m.!” He tried to slink out of the store concealing six extra-large Hershey bars and a bottle of Skinny Girl Sangria wine. He was taken into custody by Forest Park police who charged him with felony theft. 

Slurpee straw gives him away

A plastic Slurpee straw tucked into the sun visor and covered with white powder residue gave officers a reason to search the vehicle of a 42-year-old Broadview driver police pulled over for lack of registration around 8:30 Aug. 24. Searching the car, they recovered a baggie of more white powder, suspected to be cocaine and a baggie of cannabis from the driver’s socks. The man, who had numerous arrests for possession of controlled substances, was charged with possession of coke, pot and a driving violation.

 These items were obtained from the records of the Forest Park Police Department, Aug. 18-24, 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

Contact: jean@forestparkreivew

Twitter: @FP_Review


Jean Lotus loves community journalism. She covers news, features, two school boards, village council, crime, park district and writes obits for Forest Park Review. She also covers the police beat for...

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