Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Court closure: North Side crime victims will travel much farther to seek justice in 2019

The branch courthouse at Belmont and Western will close after conducting business on January 4th.
Cook County officials have announced final details of their plan to close a courthouse at 2452 West Belmont at Western Avenue. Victims of misdemeanor crimes on the North Side will now venture to the distant Belmont Cragin neighborhood to have their cases heard. The closure of the Belmont Avenue courthouse and another facility on the South Side is being promoted as a way for the county to save $9.2 million in facility repairs.
Misdemeanor cases from the yellow-shaded police districts are being moved from Belmont and Western (star) to a courthouse at 5555 West Grand, which is located in the same building as the 25th District police station.
Misdemeanor cases originating in the 18th, 19th, 20th, and 24th police districts will now be heard in a courthouse at 5555 West Grand, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced.

The delightful feature of the courthouse at 5555 West Grand is that getting there via CTA will be at least an hour-long venture from any of the North Side’s lakefront police districts. Even from the Loop, it’s a train-and-a-bus trek via CTA.

Good news! You could grab Metra’s Milwaukee District West Line at Union Station, jump off at Hanson Park then walk. The most convenient train will get you there about four hours before the court call. The first train back to Union Station after court call ends will leave Hanson Park around 3:30 p.m. So, be sure to pack a book so you can fully enjoy your daylong adventure to the middle of nowhere.

The courthouse is so far out of the way for the crime victims who are likely to need it, some skeptics might think that there are ulterior motives for the closure of Belmont Avenue and selection of 5555 West Grand as its replacement. A motive such as discouraging crime victims from showing up in court so the cases will be thrown out.

That would dovetail nicely with the county’s other criminal-friendly policies such as offering low- or recognizance bonds to undeserving defendants; ignoring state law by refusing to charge felony thieves with felony counts; and settling violent crime and gun cases for lesser charges.

In budget testimony last month, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx openly complained about the number of misdemeanor cases her staff handles each year. What better way to reduce their caseload than make it inconvenient for victims to get to court?

On the other hand, persons arrested for misdemeanors in the North Side lakefront police districts on Sundays through Thursdays are in for some inconveniences, too. Their initial post-arrest hearings used to be held at the Belmont and Western courthouse. Effective December 10th, those petty criminals will be hauled all the way to 26th and California for bond court. Friday and Saturday arrestees already go to 26th and Cal for their hearings.

The Belmont and Western courthouse will close permanently after court calls on Friday, January 4th, 2019. Starting January 7th, all misdemeanor matters formerly held at Belmont and Western will transfer to the courthouse at 5555 West Grand.  Felony preliminary hearings that used to be heard at Belmont will move to the Skokie Courthouse at 5600 Old Orchard Road.
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Monday, November 12, 2018

Despite one arrest, cops again warn of N. Side carjackers

While one member of a North Side carjacking crew has been captured, Chicago police on Monday issued a fresh community alert about vehicular hijackings that are connected to the criminal team. Monday's warning may be an indication that detectives believe the gang is still committing crimes.

Monday’s alert refers explicitly to two carjackings in the Uptown neighborhood, but the information contained in earlier police reports and an arrest report make it clear that there are several other vehicular hijackings directly connected to the same group of robbers.

Two or three males in their late teens or early 20’s are approaching victims while they sit alone in parked or idling vehicles, police said in the alert. One or more robber approaches the victim and orders them out of the car at gunpoint or by forcefully pulling them out, the alert said.

The warning refers to a carjacking at 5:42 p.m. on November 2nd in the 4800 block of North Paulina and another around 7 p.m. on November 3rd in the 1000 block of West Winona as being connected to the criminals.

An Audi taken in the Winona carjacking was later recovered in the Little Village neighborhood, according to a police source.

Last Tuesday, police announced that a 17-year-old boy had been arrested in connection with the carjacking on Paulina in which a Honda Civic was taken.

Minutes after the Civic was stolen, it was used to carjack another man in the 4400 block of North Greenview.  Another carjacking on October 30th in the Wrigleyville neighborhood is also believed to be connected to the robbery team, according to a police department source.

In Monday's alert, police described the at-large offenders as two or three black men between the ages of 17 and 25.  Anyone with information about the carjacking incidents or the offenders may contact Area North detectives at 312-744-8263 about case numbers JB-500846 and JB-502347.
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Crime at 5-year highs in Loop, Near North, and Lincoln Park, city data shows

Reported crime in Near North and the Loop is up 45% since 2014, city data shows. | Wikimedia
While Chicago Police Department leaders continue to insist that “crime is down” citywide, crime may not be down in the places where you live, work, or play, according to an analysis of city data by CWBChicago.

In fact, crime reports are at five-year highs in Lincoln Park, the Loop, and Near North neighborhoods which includes River North, Streeterville, the Magnificent Mile, and Gold Coast.

Overall reported crime in the Loop is up 47% over the past five years and 3% compared to last year. The Loop includes Chicago's central business district, Theater District, and Millenium Park, among other popular attractions.

Among the crime categories that are at five-year highs in the Loop are homicide, shootings, assault, battery, and criminal sexual assault. A mid-year effort by police to curb the Loop’s out-of-control robbery problem has yielded some results, with 272 hold-ups reported so far this year compared to last year’s 306.

Reports of violent crime in the Loop—homicide, rape, robbery, and aggravated battery—have risen 95% in five years. The violent crime category is down by 29 cases compared to last year due to the previously mentioned efforts against robbery.

The Near North community area encompasses many of Chicago’s most popular tourist and nightlife areas, including Navy Pier, River North, Streeterville, and the Magnificent Mile. Reported crime there is up 45% over the past five years and up more than 10% year-over-year.

Compared to 2014, violent crime in the Near North area is up 103% with homicides, shootings, criminal sexual assaults, and robberies all currently at five-year highs.

Lincoln Park crime is up 13% over five years and up 10% compared to last year.

Compared to five years ago, crime is also not down in Lakeview or the Near West community areas, according to the study.

On paper, crime is down by about 350 incidents in the Uptown neighborhood. But the reduction is not due to a massive decline in serious crimes. Instead, police have essentially stopped enforcing drug laws on the streets. As a result, there have been about 400 fewer narcotics crimes reported in Uptown this year as five years ago.

So, yes, crime is down by 350 cases in Uptown. But only because police have made 396 fewer drug arrests—just 44 this year compared to 440 during the same period five years ago.

In Lakeview, total reported crime is essentially flat compared to five years ago (4,386) and last year (4,348) with 4,429 cases reported so far this year. The neighborhood has seen robberies drop by more than 50% due almost entirely to a focused effort to reduce muggings on police Beat 1924 in Wrigleyville and Boystown.

Next time a police executive says “crime is down,” ask for specifics about Lincoln Park, the Loop, and Near North. High-ranking cops don’t run very often, but a question like that may do the trick.
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Old Town: Shots fired, nobody struck at noontime Monday

Shots were fired in the Old Town neighborhood around noon on Monday, but nobody was injured, police said. Separately in Old Town, a South Side man is facing multiple theft charges after police reportedly discovered a trove of stolen property during a traffic stop in the neighborhood. Here’s what we’ve learned:

Approximate location of the shots fired

Shots Fired

About nine shots were fired, but no persons were injured, during an incident in the 400 block of West Evergreen on Monday afternoon. Police were called to the area at 12:16 p.m. after several witnesses reported hearing the gunfire and seeing a group of teenagers running from the scene. At least one unoccupied vehicle was struck by a bullet, police said.

A Chicago police pod camera captured images of a male gunman standing in the middle of the street and shooting toward the west, according to an officer on the scene. Police recovered nine shell casings.

Police said the gunman fled south between a set of buildings after firing the shots. He is described as a tall black male with short hair who was wearing white gym shoes, gray stonewashed or ripped jeans, and a dark-colored jacket with a white dragon design on the back.

The shooter was accompanied by another tall black male with short hair who was wearing blue jeans, and a ripped blue jean jacket that may have bleach stains on it.

Traffic Booty

Moore | CPD
When police pulled 24-year-old Pierre Moore over in the 1300 block of North Cleveland on the evening of November 1st, their only intention was to issue a traffic citation.

But Moore, of the Roseland neighborhood, wound up with much more trouble than that.

Police said they noticed broken glass on the floor of Moore’s car, but all of the windows of his vehicle were intact, according to court records. Suspicious officers searched Moore’s car and found stolen property belonging to six separate crime victims, prosecutors say.

Recovered from Moore’s car, according to prosecutors:
• A credit card that was stolen from a woman in the 1800 block of North Clark  
• A backpack containing a laptop, iPad, and miscellaneous items taken from a man’s car while it was parked in the 1700 block of West North Avenue 
• A backpack containing school items belonging to a woman 
• A Bloomingdale’s credit card belonging to yet another woman 
• A purse belonging to a woman who lives in Wilmette
• Two cellphones and two credit cards that were stolen from a woman at a daycare center in the 1900 block of North Clark
Police said they found a hammer and a spark plug in Moore’s trunk, items that could be used to break into cars. (Shards of ceramic spark plugs are widely used by thieves to break car windows. The tiny pieces of ceramic are so effective at breaking glass, they’ve earned the nickname “ninja rocks.”)
Video not loading? Click here.

In addition to traffic violations, Moore is now charged with five counts of theft of lost or mislaid property and one count of criminal damage to property. He was released on a $1,500 deposit bond.
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Sunday, November 11, 2018

Wrigleyville menace charged with robbery, theft from suburban man

If there’s a person who has been mentioned in more arrest reports on CWBChicago than Marcell Townsend, we’d be hard pressed to name them.

Time after time, Townsend has been arrested in the Wrigleyville area where he frequently sells drugs to bar-hoppers, according to police. In 2016, we even published a spreadsheet of Townsend’s arrests.

CaseDateAddress of ArrestChargesAllegationDisposition
HR70789412/27/20097300 S. KingstonCannabisNot AvailableStricken
HS58645710/28/20107100 S. JeffreyCannabisNot AvailableStricken
HT3305186/4/20117200 S. ExchangeCannabisNot AvailableStricken
HV1884273/8/201269th Street Red Line PlatfformCannabisNot AvailableStricken
HV1884273/8/201269th Street Red Line PlatfformSoliciting on CTANot AvailableStricken
HV57209711/21/20121200 S. IndependenceCannabisNot AvailableDropped by state
HV57209711/21/20121200 S. IndependencePossession of Controlled Substance (2 counts)Not AvailableDropped by state
HW1108171/9/2013100 W. 109thCannabisNot AvailableStricken
Not Available4/7/2013Not AvailablePossession of Controlled SubstanceNot AvailableDropped by state
HW1942973/22/20143300 N. ClarkBatteryPer the police report, a man told police that Townsend became enraged during a verbal altercation and punched the man in the face. During a custody search, police found a clear baggie containing two smaller bags of suspected cocaine protruding from Townsend's waistbandVictim did not appear. Stricken
HW1942973/22/20143300 N. ClarkPossession of Controlled SubstancePer the police report, a man told police that Townsend became enraged during a verbal altercation and punched the man in the face. During a custody search, police found a clear baggie containing two smaller bags of suspected cocaine protruding from Townsend's waistbandDropped by state
HW58747512/29/20133525 N. ClarkPossession of Controlled Substance (2 counts)Not AvailableDropped by state
HW58747512/29/20133525 N. ClarkCannabisNot AvailableDropped by state
HX1095441/10/20147400 S. ExchangeCannabisNot AvailableStricken
HX3192056/26/20143230 N. WiltonTheftPer police report: A man flagged down officers near the Belmont Red Line station and said his friend's phone had just been stolen by a man who fled into a nearby alley. Officers entered the alley and saw Townsend toss an object onto the ground. Townsend was detained and officers determined the object to be the victim's iPhone. Townsend was positively identified by the victim as the person who snatched her phone from her hand.Stricken
HX4356289/24/20146259 S. IndianaCriminal Trespass to VehiclePer police report: Townsend ran a stop sign at 6300 S. Prairie. Police ran the plate and found the vehicle had been reported stolen from the 900 block of W. Addison.Stricken
HX54881612/19/20143702 N. ClarkPossession of Controlled Substance (2 counts)According to court complaints, Townsend was accused of stealing a woman's iPhone. Arresting officers found a Ziploc bag containing suspect cocaine and a plastic bag containing smaller bags of suspect marijuana.Dropped by state
HX54881612/19/20143702 N. ClarkCannabisAccording to court complaints, Townsend was accused of stealing a woman's iPhone. Arresting officers found a Ziploc bag containing suspect cocaine and a plastic bag containing smaller bags of suspect marijuana.Stricken
HX54881612/19/20143702 N. ClarkTheftAccording to court complaints, Townsend was accused of stealing a woman's iPhone. Arresting officers found a Ziploc bag containing suspect cocaine and a plastic bag containing smaller bags of suspect marijuana.Sentenced to 18 years court supervision on January 14, 2015
HY1746483/6/20153507 N. ClarkPossession of Controlled SubstanceNot AvailableDropped by state
HY1746483/6/20153507 N. ClarkCannabisNot AvailableStricken
HY1746483/6/20153507 N. ClarkSoliciting An Unlawful BusinessNot AvailableThrown out by judge (Non Suited)
HY3008536/13/20153400 N. SheffieldUnlawful Possession of Motor VehiclePer police report: Officers at a Mobil station in the 1200 block of N. Halsted heard Townsend ask the clerk for $10 worth of gas, then exit the store and walk past the vehicle that he bought gas for. Suspicious of his conduct, officers ran the vehicle plate and it came back stolen. Townsend was stopped. He told the officers that a guy named "Ralph" at the Cubby Bear in Wrigleyville gave him the vehicle to use. When officers asked where the vehicle's keys were, Townsend said "I don't want no trouble. I threw them behind the fence by the bus stop." Officers went to that location and found the vehicle's keys.Guilty plea. 2 years probation.
HY50078211/14/20151053 W. AddisonTheftFrom court records: Townsend and his brother, Zikee, were accused of taking a Texas man's debit card and $20 as the victim used an ATM near Addison and Racine in Wrigleyville.Victim, a resident of Texas did not appear in court. Stricken.
CaseDateAddress of ArrestChargesAllegationDisposition

Guess what? Marcell Townsend has been arrested in Wrigleyville again. He’s charged with felony theft and felony robbery this time. (We know, it’s a stunner.)

Here’s what allegedly happened this time:

Marcell Townsend | CPD
Early last Sunday morning, police were flagged down by two suburban men in the 3500 block of North Clark. One of the men told police that he was approached by Townsend who took the victim’s phone without permission and then accessed the man’s Venmo account. Venmo is an app that lets you make payments to people and businesses.

According to the victim, Townsend transferred $950 from the victim’s bank to Townsend’s own account. Townsend then gave the man his phone back and left, the victim said.

The victim showed police the Venmo app on his phone and officers verified that $950 had been transferred to Marcell Townsend, “a known offender” that they had just seen up the street, according to their report.

Townsend was stopped in the 3600 block of North Clark and he immediately promised to transfer all of the money back if the victims would not press charges.

But, darn the luck, Townsend had “technical issues with his Venmo,” police said.

Townsend, age 26, was arrested. Again.

Judge David Navarro set his bail at $5,000. So far, Townsend has been unable to come up with the $500 he needs to bail out. He’s due back in court on Tuesday.
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Robbery team strikes three convenience stores early Sunday

This 7-Eleven at 1349 West Fullerton is among three of the chain's locations to be robbed Sunday. | Google
UPDATE NOV 11TH, 7PM — Chicago police tonight issued a community alert in which they said the 7-Eleven at 2010 North Damen in Logan Square was also robbed by the crew around 5:45 a.m.
A robbery crew held-up three convenience stores overnight—two in Lincoln Park and one in Wicker Park. The store clerks all reported being punched by the offenders, but no one was seriously injured. No suspects are in custody.

Approximate locations of the 7-Eleven robberies. | Multiplotrr
The first robbery was reported at 1:40 a.m. by an employee of 7-Eleven at 1508 North Damen. He told police that three men entered the store, one punched him in the face, and another claimed to have a gun. The crew took money and merchandise, then climbed into a black sedan that fled westbound.

Police said the offenders were three black men in their late 20’s who were wearing ski masks. They are all between 5’10” and 6-feet tall.

Then, at 5:25 a.m., a 7-Eleven clerk reported being punched and robbed by three masked men at the 2619 North Clark location. The men took merchandise and the register contents, then fled south on Clark. Police said the victim offered offender descriptions that were identical to the Wicker Park crew.

Finally, at 5:34 a.m., another Lincoln Park 7-Eleven was robbed at 1349 West Fullerton. Again, the store employee reported that three men entered the store and took his wallet and phone, the register contents, and Newport cigarettes before running away southbound on Wayne Avenue. The offender descriptions were identical to the other two cases, except the men were said to have worn bandanas over their faces instead of ski masks.
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Man threatened passengers with hatchet at Belmont Red Line station, prosecutors say

Gary O. Smith is charged with threatening CTA passengers with a hatchet. | CPD; File
Nearly a month after CTA passengers at the Belmont Red Line station were threatened by a man who wielded a hatchet, Chicago police have made an arrest in the case.

Gary O. Smith, 39, was arrested last Sunday as he stood in a bus shelter at Clark and Division, according to a police report. Patrol officers recognized him as the suspect who was wanted in connection with the hatchet incident.

Around 6:45 a.m. on October 10th, Smith displayed a hatchet on the Belmont platform and told a 35-year-old man, “Imma f*ck you up,” police said. A CTA worker also reported seeing Smith “menacing” the man as well as other CTA patrons, according to police. No one was injured.

Smith slipped away from the Belmont station before officers arrived, but investigators generated a police bulletin about the incident that included surveillance images taken by cameras at the Belmont stop.

Prosecutors charged Smith with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, reckless conduct, and probation violation. Judge Anthony Calabrese set his bail at $25,000.
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Edgewater: 7-Eleven clerk locks doors to keep violent mugger away from victim, police say

Dameon Traylor was arrested at a nearby 7-Eleven store. | CPD; Multiplottr
A Mount Vernon man who grabbed a 22-year-old woman by her backpack, threw her to the ground, and punched her repeatedly in the face during a robbery in Edgewater last Sunday is being held without bond, according to prosecutors and court records.

The victim was walking in the 5500 block of North Kenmore around 6:30 a.m. when Dameon Traylor grabbed her backpack from behind and threw her to the ground, police said. Prosecutors say the woman tried to get up several times, but Traylor shoved her to ground each time and began punching her in the face.

With the woman still on the ground, Traylor allegedly began going through her backpack and taking valuables. He then fled.

The woman ran to a nearby 7-Eleven for help. Traylor followed her to the store and the clerk locked the front door to keep him away from the victim, police said.

Several 911 callers and witnesses directed responding officers to Traylor, who was still outside the convenience store when they arrived. He was holding the victim’s phone, according to police.

Prosecutors charged Traylor with felony robbery and Judge David Navarro ordered him to be held without bail. He is due back in court on Tuesday.

Rogers Park mugging

Approximate location of the robbery
A Rogers Park woman was the target of a violent daylight robbery on Wednesday morning, police said. No one is in custody.

The victim was in the 1200 block of West North Shore at 9:45 a.m. when a man jumped from the passenger seat of a white BMW and began attacking her, according to witnesses. Police said the man, who had a black pistol, beat the woman and caused head trauma. After getting the woman’s purse, the offender got back into the BMW’s passenger seat and sped northbound in the west alley of Sheridan Road, witnesses reported.

Police described the offender as a black man in his late teens with a slim build who was wearing a black hoodie.

The BMW is a white 2012 X5 with Indiana “Purdue” license plates that begin with PD506. The vehicle has been reported stolen from its owner in Valparaiso, police said.

The victim was transported by ambulance to St. Francis Hospital in Evanston for treatment.
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Saturday, November 10, 2018

Homeless man stabs, carjacks shelter van driver

Police said the incident happened on Lower Michigan Avenue at Hubbard Street. | Google
A Good Samaritan who was trying to give homeless people rides to a shelter wound up being stabbed Saturday morning when a homeless man in his van carjacked the vehicle, police said. A suspect is in custody.

The 39-year-old victim was driving his personal van on lower Michigan Avenue at Hubbard Street around 8:20 a.m. to find homeless people in need of showering and services at a local shelter, police said. At some point, a homeless passenger pulled out a 12-inch knife and stabbed him in a carjacking attempt, according to police and the victim.

Police said the victim got out of the van and held onto its side as the homeless man drove away. The vehicle crashed nearby with the victim still holding onto its side, police said. The offender fled from the crash scene and was later taken into custody by officers near Michigan Avenue and Upper Wacker Drive. Police said the suspect, age 32, had blood on his hands when they found him.

The victim, who suffered multiple lacerations to his hand, refused to sign any complaints against the offender, police said. Prosecutors are pursuing charges of unlawful use of a weapon and reckless conduct, according to a CPD statement.

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Woman carjacked in Edgewater Friday morning

An Edgewater woman was carjacked shortly after 10 o'clock Friday morning by a man who displayed a gun or taser and forced her from her vehicle, police said.

The woman was in the 1000 block of West Bryn Mawr when the offender approached and took control of her silver 2002 Chevy Geo. Police said the carjacker is a thin black man with a slight mustache who stands about 5’8” tall. He was wearing a blue construction vest or a blue sweater with stripes on the side, a blue baseball hat, and blue pants.

Police said the stolen car is a four-door model that has a flag in the back window and a license plate number that begins with 1247.
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