Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Thieves Burglarizing Businesses Of Cash And Smokes

Chicago police are looking for three men who have smashed their way into  North Side businesses to commit a series of early morning burglaries.

Park West Liquors | Google
The men have broken front glass, entered the businesses, and then stolen money from cash registers as well as cigarettes.

On the positive side, a little justice may have been eeked out early Saturday when the crew broke into Park West Liquors at 2570 North Lincoln.

Police said someone who saw the burglary unfold around 5:45 a.m. chased after the offenders and broke a window out of the crew's get-away car.

A family-run Uptown convenience store in the 4100 block of North Clarendon has been targeted twice by the team—once at 6:05 a.m. on Thursday and again the next night.

Most recently, the men broke into Green Spin Cleaners, 2647 North Clybourn, between 6 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. on Sunday.

Police issued an alert yesterday evening that describes the offenders at three black men between 25- and 30-years-old. They are all between 5’10” and 6-feet tall and weigh between 185- and 200 -pounds.

They may be driving a dark gray Dodge Magnum with a broken passenger side window. The remaining windows may be tinted.

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Lakeview Man Claims Robbers "Took everything...including my small kitchen appliances" During Sunday Home Invasion

"It looks worse than it is," Lakeview man says | GoFundMe
A 28-year-old man who says he was the victim of a mugging and home invasion in Lakeview last weekend has turned to Go Fund Me.

“On Saturday night I was mugged right outside of my apartment and forced to let them into my home,” the man, who identifies himself as Sebastien John, wrote. “They took everything…including my microwave and small kitchen appliances."

According to police department records, officers were dispatched to the man’s home in the 3900 block of North Pine Grove at 11:30 Sunday morning after friends of the man reported seeing disturbing Snapchat messages.

“I was taken hostage by two men and forced to let them into my apartment,” the Go Fund Me appeal says. “They then took everything that was in their sight; MacBook, iPhone, iPad, my portfolio which had my passport, SScard, birth certificate and even some checks.”

He said the offenders also punched him in the face and ribs, but, “it looks worse than it is.”

The man told police that the incident unfolded between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. Sunday morning, according to a CPD report.

In a separate Facebook post, he said that he moved into his unit two weeks ago.
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Woman Robbed At Gunpoint Near Racine And School This Morning

A Lakeview woman was robbed at gunpoint near Racine and School early this morning.

The woman told police that the offender approached her on the street near her home around 12:05 a.m. and demanded her valuables while displaying a black handgun.

The man—who is a whopping $20 richer for the woman’s trouble—then fled northbound.

He’s described as a 5’6”-tall black man with facial stubble who weighs about 140 pounds. He was wearing a black bucket hat and a black sweatshirt.

A Better Start

Wrigleyville and Boystown recorded 25 robberies through the first three months of 2017, according to Chicago Police Department data.

That’s down from 40 incidents during the same period last year, but it’s up from sixteen cases in 2015 and twenty in 2014.
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North Side Bank Robber Look-Alike Walks Free

Michael Weimer (right) was stopped after a "concerned citizen" thought he looked like a wanted bank robber (left)
It's good news, bad news for Michael Weimer.

The good news is that the FBI determined that he is not the man who has been holding up North Side TCF Bank branches lately.

The bad news is a lot of people think he looks like the bank robber and, well, he was allegedly carrying narcotics and drug paraphernalia when cops stopped him last week on a tip that he was the wanted man.

A "concerned citizen" reported seeing a man who looks like the bank robber walking near Irving Park and Broadway late last Monday.

Cops stopped Weimer nearby for questioning and recovered the contraband during a search, police said. Weimer is charged with possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.

He may want to consider a makeover because he looks a lot like a wanted man.
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Monday, April 24, 2017

Robbery Crew Hits N. Side Convenience Stores, Fires Shot

A robbery crew held up at least two North Side stores at gunpoint and fired a shot during one of the hold-ups late Sunday night, police said.

The team of at least three offenders first entered the 7-Eleven store at 3801 North Western at 11 p.m. and displayed a handgun before taking money from the registers and boxes of cigarettes.

About 20 minutes later, the same crew announced a robbery at the Best Food Mart at 2451 North Lincoln. One of the offenders shot at the store clerk but missed.

Cops had descriptions for three robbers. All are black men in their 20's who stand between 5’5” and 5’11” tall and weigh 150- to 190-pounds.
1) Ski mask, black hoodie with white draw strings, black jeans, white gym shoes
2) Dark hoodie with baseball cap underneath, torn jeans, red gym shoes
3) White mask covering part of his face, dark hoodie with small white log on left side, bleached jeans, gray gym shoes
The men may be using a silver four-door sedan with a possible license plate of US1177 driven by a fourth offender.
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Sunday, April 23, 2017

Man Carries Illegal Air Gun Because "It's Wild On The Red Line"—Cops

Spotted in possession of an illegal pellet gun, a 49-year-old South Shore man told 19th District cops that he doesn’t cause any trouble with the gun, he just carries it “for protection because it’s wild on the CTA Red Line,” police said.

Officers met up with William Fields on April 9 after a caller reported a suspicious person using a parking garage electrical outlet to charge multiple cell phones in the 3100 block of North Sheffield.

As cops inquired about Fields’ collection of electrical devices, one officer allegedly saw the barrel of a gun sticking out of Fields’ backpack.

When Fields denied having a gun, officers handcuffed him and searched his bag, recovering a holstered air gun and five gas canisters, according to their report.

That’s when Fields had a change of heart: “I have a BB gun but cause no trouble, Officers,” Fields allegedly said. “I just have it for protection because it’s wild on the CTA Red Line.”

The last time Fields was arrested was in February 2015. That's when cops found him in possession of an air gun…at the 69th Street Red Line Station.
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THE FRIENDLIER CONFINES: Cubs Home Game Arrests Down Sharply This Year

The Friendly Confines have been much friendlier so far this year.

Arrests at Chicago Cubs home games are down 72% so far compared to 2016..

Cops have made only five Cubs-related arrests through the first nine home games of the season—way down from eighteen arrests during the first nine games last season.

Katz | Chicago Police Dept
This year’s first Cubs arrestee was Paul Andre Katz, identified in his police arrest report as a 52-year-old Chicago attorney.

Katz was arrested inside Wrigley Field as the team played the Pittsburgh Pirates on April 14, according to police records.

Cubs security told police that they asked Katz to leave the stadium about 90 minutes into the afternoon game because Katz “was using profanity, disrupting, and causing a disturbance while seated at the ballpark,” court records say.

When Katz “refused" to clean up his act, security asked him to leave the park “due to him violating the code of conduct. Subject refused to leave and was detained by Wrigley security,” police said.

Katz is charged with criminal trespass to land, according to court records.

Technically, there was one arrest earlier than Katz’s: Reuben “Big Rube” Hunt, a 39-year-old from Humboldt Park.

Hunt | Chicago Police Dept
He was arrested outside of the stadium at 4:16 p.m. on opening day after a 54-year-old Sports Services concessionaire told cops that Hunt hit him repeatedly in the face and body with a cane.

But the attack is alleged to have happened on March 8 in a different part of town, so CWBChicago editors have ruled Hunt’s arrest to be “non-Cubs-related.”

A total of 87 arrests were made in connection with the Cubs’ 81 regular season home games last year.

Another 62 arrests were made during the team’s 2016 post-season play.

CWBChicago editors determine if incidents are "Cubs related" by reviewing police reports for all arrests made within a quarter-mile of Wrigley Field and within 3 hours of any Cubs home game.
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Georgia Man Skipped On $2K Bar Tab, Trump Says

Robert Heath (inset) drank nearly $2,000 worth of booze with no intention of paying, prosecutors say
It was a big, big bar tab. The biggest. Yuge. And Robert Heath had no intention of paying it, prosecutors say.

The 30-year-old tourist from Canton, Georgia, ran up the tab at the rooftop bar of President Donald Trump's Chicago hotel. Then, he tried to leave without paying, Trump's people say.

In legal form, Heath “knowing obtained control of alcoholic beverages having a total value of $1,838.90, intending to deprive Trump Tower Terrace permanently of the benefit of the property,” prosecutors said.

An accompanying police report alleges that Heath “consumed a large amount of alcohol and refused to pay his bill” and “knowingly ordered [the drinks] with intent” to not pay.

Heath had no cash when he was arrested, police said.

He is charged with felony theft of over $500.

A recent menu at The Terrace shows cocktail prices starting at $25; local beers for $12; and wines starting at about $20 per glass. The Donald also offers a $100 ice cream sundae; six “colossal shrimp” for $38 and a “pancetta, lobster & tomato” sandwich for just under $40.

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Taxpayers Foot $40,000 Bill For "Emergency" Phones In Lousy Locations (PS-The Phones May Not Work, Either)

Tax money paid for this "emergency" phone near the Sheridan Red Line at a cost of $20,000.
Two recently installed emergency call boxes on the far north end of Lakeview came at a steep price for local taxpayers: $20,000. Each.

Even worse than the price tag may be the fact that some residents now want the boxes removed and there are indications that the phones—designed to help victims report police emergencies—don't work reliably.

A CWBChicago investigation has found no public records about the phone project; no records about how the contractor was selected; and no records to shed light on the decision to plant the phones on the northern border of Lakeview instead of near well-known crime centers.

The two phone purchases were made with tax dollars entrusted to Chicago View, formerly known as Central Lakeview Merchants Association, a now-defunct business group that oversaw nearly $800,000 a year in local tax monies called SSA funds.

The tax funds were supposed to be used to spruce up streetscapes, enhance security and boost business on long stretches of local commercial streets: Belmont from Racine to Halsted; Clark from Belmont to Byron; Sheffield from Diversey to Irving Park; and Addison from west of Clark to Reta.

"Safety Programs"

Books and records reviewed by CWBChicago show that Chicago View and local SSA commissioners largely ignored the public's call for more public safety initiatives in recent years.

In 2013, the group spent a total of $2,000 on items it claimed were for "public safety." $1,200 of that tax money was for a T-mobile cell phone, and another $800 was paid to Constant Contact, a company that specializes in email newsletters.
In papers filed with the city, SSA #17 budgeted $2,400 for safety in 2014. It paid for a cell phone.
In 2014, Chicago View budgeted $2,400 of taxpayer funds for "safety programs," but only $1,299 of that was spent. Again, the "safety program" for the year was simply a T-Mobile account labeled "security phone."

And 2015's safety budget was used for the T-Mobile phone until October 25. That's when Chicago View first applied for a city permit to install the emergency call box on Sheridan Road at Dakin.

One month later, Chicago View distributed $9,878.76 to Keyth Security Systems. That would be the first of many payments to Keyth—eventually totaling $40,0056.96 for the two call stations, which are located about one block apart.

Location, Location, Location

If the concept behind the phones was to give crime victims a way to communicate during an emergency, Chicago View could not have selected installation sites farther from neighborhood crime centers.

Year after year, Chicago Police Department statistics show that street crime in Lakeview is centered around Belmont and Sheffield. Secondary hot spots include the 800- to 1000 blocks of West Belmont; and the 3500 block of North Clark Street.

All of those areas were within Chicago View's oversight yet none of them was selected for the 5-figure emergency phone systems.

This heat map, created with Chicago Police Department data, plots reported crime in our area during 2015 and 2016, with red areas having the highest concentration of incidents. The black lines are the streets included in SSA #17 and the numerals 1 and 2 mark the locations where Chicago View chose to install call boxes.
Heat map source: Chicago Data Portal
The Fremont/Irving box is located across from Thorek Hospital
Making site selection more questionable is the fact that the Fremont/Irving Park phone is located about 15 feet south of the intersection where it cannot be seen from many angles. It's also across the street from Thorek Hospital, which would seemingly offer crime victims a reliable place to seek help in the area.

CWBChicago editors reviewed three years of books and records from Chicago View. None of their public meeting agendas or minutes contain any reference to the call box project.

And the group's annual contracts with the city, which required them to disclose contractors who would be paid more than $10,000 in taxpayer funds, never mention Keyth or the phone projects.

Businesses and neighbors who live near the call boxes were apparently not asked about the call box idea. Because some of them are now circulating a petition to have the phones removed.

The bright blue boxes are unsightly and project an image of being in a high crime area, they say.

44th Ward Alderman Tom Tunney stripped SSA oversight from Chicago View in November after cries of poor service and misplaced priorities became too loud for the city to ignore.

"The city wanted to revisit, frankly, how they spend taxpayer money," Tunney aide Chris Jessup told DNAInfo at the time.

Now, the service area is under the stewardship of the Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce.

Cleaning Up

Martino (center) and Lakeview East Chamber Of Commerce workers
Asked about the camera project undertaken by the previous administrators, Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Maureen Martino was candid.

“We don’t have any information why [Chicago View] choose these areas and if there were any public meetings or surveys or stats taken to best determine the locations for these boxes,” Martino said.

Have the phones ever actually been used in an emergency?

"The usage is very minimal," Martino said, “and when tested, there was no response, so the effectiveness of the boxes are not showing favorable.”

Useless Records

The call boxes aren't the only thing not mentioned in the minutes and agendas of SSA #17's public meetings held on Chicago View's watch.

The truth is that those records show almost no detail about anything that was discussed at any of their meetings since 2013.
Chicago View's SSA meeting minutes were routinely sparse and free of detail 

Martino's group is the long-time administrator of a different Lakeview SSA that serves the Broadway commercial strip.

Public records show that her team has routinely published detailed minutes of that SSA's meetings, providing taxpayers and businesses with a transparent look at what's being done with public money.
Lakeview East Chamber's SSA minutes are full of detail about the public's business.
Their September 2016 minutes run 1.5 pages. (Above and below)
As for public safety expenses, the chamber has focused on providing security patrols in its service area during crucial hours, according to books and records furnished by the city.

And private patrols are the backbone of Martino's security plan for the area formerly overseen by Chicago View.

Soliciting public bids for patrol services and awarding a contract were among the first things her group did this year.

Refreshingly, the Chamber of Commerce is focusing its public safety efforts on well-known crime hot spots.

The Belmont corridor will be a focus of its private patrols, and a satellite security office is being established in a storefront at Belmont and Sheffield.

As for the $40,000 call boxes on the north end of her new territory, Martino said the phones "are currently under review.”
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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Lakeview Server Robbed After Work Tuesday

A Lakeview server was robbed as they left work last night in the 2900 block of North Sheffield—the same block where a man was shot at a house party over the weekend.

The server was jumped around 10 p.m. near Sheffield and Wellington, police said.

They described the robber as a black man with a mini-Afro who was wearing a black varsity jacket with red and white stripes. The offender fled westbound on Wellington on a white or gray bicycle.


A robbery victim walked into the 19th District police station after being pepper-sprayed and robbed nearby on Sunday evening, police said.

The victim said he was in the 3600 block of North Fremont around 7:40 p.m. when “7 or 8 black females sprayed the gentleman and stole his cell phone,” an officer said.

No one is in custody.

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