Thursday, February 26, 2015

PROBATION CITY: Catalytic Converter Thieves Plead Guilty, Get Unsupervised Release

L to R: Williamson, Perry
Two of the five men who were charged in connection with the theft of 24 catalytic converters last month have reached plea deals.

Mychael Williamson, 18, and Angelo Perry, 22, each pleaded guilty to one count of theft of lost or mislaid property on Monday. Both were sentenced to one year of conditional discharge, which is essentially unsupervised probation.

Three other men are due back in court next month on similar charges.

The five, all members of the Traveling Vice Lords street gang according to police, were arrested after their van crashed near Addison and Lincoln early on January 6. Police say they found 24 stolen catalytic converters and a saw in the vehicle.

A Second Chance

Meanwhile, a woman who was charge with theft after allegedly breaking into a car near Wilton and Belmont—only to be found with her cell phone inexplicably operating in Japanese language mode—has pleaded guilty to attempted theft.

Nefertiti Ruffin-Hall, 21, received two years of "second chance probation." Charges were dropped against her alleged companion, Learthur Brooks.
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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

"CONFIDENTIAL CRIMES": Robbery Of Mayor's Son Was One Of 178 Specially-Flagged Incidents Since 2007, City Exec Says

The December beating and robbery of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's son was tagged "confidential" by the city, which prevented the incident from appearing in the city's vaunted crime "transparency" site. That's the word from Tom Schenk Jr, the city's chief data officer.

CWB reported exclusively last week that the Emanuel robbery had gone missing from the city's public Data Portal, even though the web site is a cornerstone of the city's crime transparency efforts.

A total of 178 crimes were deemed "confidential" over the past eight years, Schenk said, adding that all of the crimes are now included in the Data Portal. Schenk had previously stated that 115 crimes were affected. The specially-categorized crimes should have been listed all along, he said.

Schenk spoke to open data enthusiasts Tuesday evening at Open Gov Hack Night in the Merchandise Mart.

Confidential Crimes?

Many questions beg to be asked and answered:

  • What exactly are the other 177 crimes that the city deemed to be "confidential" matters? 
  • What qualifies a crime for "confidential" status?
  • Why is there a need for "confidential" crimes? What does that status mean?
  • Are there other categories of crimes that affect the Data Portal's accuracy and government transparency?

More than 2.8 million crimes have been reported in Chicago over the past eight years, according to the Data Portal, making those 178 "confidential" matters very rare birds.

Schenk did not responded to a Tuesday afternoon email inquiry about the missing crimes, nor has he responded to a tagged Tweet from this weekend in which we sought more general information. And, the Chicago Data Portal's Tumblr moderators have not responded our "Ask Me Anything" submission.

We're looking forward to getting detailed information for you. In the interest of transparency, of course.
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Sunday, February 22, 2015

ALERT: Gunman Targeting Local Businesses, Cops Say

Chicago police have just issued a community alert warning the public about a man who has robbed two businesses at gunpoint in our area. Both crimes were first reported here on CWB.

The man is wanted for robbing Plato's Closet resale shop at Broadway and Diversey over the weekend as well as robbing a FedEx store near Fullerton and Halsted on January 9.

In both cases, the man entered, produced a small revolver, and demanded cash.

FedEx witnesses described the man as black, 45- to 50-years-old, wearing a red and gray plaid trapper style winter hat, a black jacket, partially faded blue jeans, and white gym shoes.

Surveillance footage of Saturday's robbery on Broadway show the man to be black, 40 to 45 years old, 5'10" tall, 150 pounds, wearing a tan trapper style hat, a black trench coat over a gray hoodie, blue jeans, and white gym shoes.

Detectives are asking anyone with information to contact them at 312.744.8263 and refer to Pattern P15-N-054(BA).
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AGAINST ALL ODDS: Missing Emanuel Robbery "Fixed"; City Says Data Issue Affected .004015070129% Of Crimes

Two days after CWB revealed that the robbery of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s own son did not appear on the city’s lauded crime statistics “transparency” site, the city “fixed” it.

In a lonely Tweet Friday afternoon, Chicago Chief Data Officer Tom Schenk Jr wrote “We ID’d the issue and fixed it. It’s now online with about 115 omitted in the past 8 years.”

As Scooby-Doo would say: "WWWWahhhuuuuuh?”

The Emanuel report is affected by a 1-in-25,0000 long shot and the explanation is "fixed it!"?

That’s it? For now, yes. There is no information about the “fix” on the Chicago Data Portal blog that is supposed to provide “updates on...  occasional issue[s] with specific datasets.”

And Schenk has not responded to a Tweet in which we invited him to contact us via email.

But, Schenk is reportedly scheduled to appear Tuesday evening at “Open Gov Hack Night” to offer more information.

We’re going to send a cub reporter, armed with Javascript For Dummies and a bottle of Fireball. Stay tuned.
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HAND IN POCKET: At Least 2 Targeted Here By CTA Pickpockets

At least two victims reported being pickpocketed on the CTA or CTA property in our area last week:

• A #22 Clark bus passenger reported being victimized as they stepped off the southbound bus at Belmont around 5:30PM last Monday. The offenders were described as a male and female couple: The male is black with a grayish goatee, about 6-feet tall, 170 pounds, wearing a black jacket, and black pants. His partner is a woman, black, wearing a black North Face brand jacket.

• On Wednesday, another victim flagged down police around 6:40PM at the Belmont CTA station to report being pick pocketed. No offender description was offered.

Photos of an alleged Red Line train pickpocket in action last month.
(Chicago Police Department)
The CTA has issued two alerts about North Side pickpockets since late November.

The agency issued a series of pictures with its most recent alert on January 24. The photo series showed a pickpocket in action on a southbound Red Line train.

And a late November police alert warned of pickpockets working as a team across several North Side stations. As CWB reported then, police strongly believe that they had one of the suspects in custody before the alert was issued. They had to let him go because a victim refused to file charges. Court records showed that the suspect, a career pickpocket, remained at large as of Friday.

Uninvited Burglar

A Lincoln Park woman reported seeing an unknown man in her apartment last Monday, then discovered that he had taken her cell phone and credit cards during the visit. Police say the man entered the apartment in the 1000 block of Montana around 11:45AM, “smelling like booze,” and then fled upon being discovered. Offender description: male, black, about 18-years-old, glasses, short hair, black jacket, light jeans, carrying a backpack.

Also on last week’s burglary list: 3600 block of Fremont. No force was used to enter the apartment.
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BRAZEN: Clothing Store Robbed At Gunpoint Saturday Morning

Surveillance photo of the suspect robbing Plato's Closet on Saturday.
(Chicago Police Department)
UPDATE 9:09PM: Police have issued a community alert regarding this crime. Our original report follows, with surveillance photo added.
The hustle and bustle of a major 3-way intersection did not dissuade a man from robbing a Lake View clothing store at gunpoint in broad daylight yesterday.

Police were called to Plato's Closet, 2817 Broadway, just after 10:30AM by the store clerk who said a man pointed a small black revolver at her and took about $900 from the store's cash register.

An unusually-robust police search of the area around the Broadway-Clark-Diversey intersection failed to locate the offender.

The suspect is described as an "older" black man between 5'10" and 6-feet tall, with a thin mustache, a "flat nose," and average build. He was reportedly wearing a tan and cream-colored "Elmer Fudd hat" with a dark wool trench coat, jeans, and white gym shoes. He was last seen walking southbound on Broadway toward Diversey.

CPD robbery case #HY158794.

Wrigleyville Mugging

Police met with a strong arm robbery victim who called for help from the Taco Bell across from Wrigley Field around 2:30 Saturday morning.  The man told officers that was walking in an alley near Taco Bell when two men approached him from behind. One put the victim into a chokehold and the other took his iPhone and wallet. Both offenders were men in their early 20's, described as black, about 5'7" tall, wearing dark hoodies. Case number HY158552.
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Friday, February 20, 2015

ENCORE PERFORMANCES: Man's Been Arrested Twice At Center On Halsted This Year; Wrigleyville Burglar Goes Back To Prison

A "Fang Banger Dual Blade Vampire Lover's
Folding Pocket Knife." $10 on Ebay.
A man charged with brandishing a knife at the Center on Halsted earlier this month is the same man who was arrested for allegedly threatening to kill a security guard there on January 20th.

Brian Conner of Uptown is charged with aggravated assault after allegedly pulling a dual-blade knife on a COH employee while yelling, “So you got my peoples locked up!”

Arresting officers didn’t find a knife in Conner’s possession when they arrested him, but the victim walked into the station while Conner was being processed and turned over the knife that Conner allegedly pulled.

The victim said the knife—emblazoned with the words “Vampire Lovers” in red lettering—had been recovered from a snowbank near the Center.

Last month, Conner, 22, was charged with simple assault after allegedly lunging toward a COH guard who woke him up inside the community center. “If you touch me,” Conner reportedly warned, ”I’m going to come back and kill you.” His bail is set at $10,000.

Hard Time For Wrigleyville Burglar

Nocentelli  (Cook Co Sheriff's Dept)
A career criminal who was arrested while walking out the front door of a Wrigleyville home on December 30 is going back to prison.

Bryant Nocentelli, 30, received a 6-year sentence in exchange for his guilty plea. At the time of his arrest, Nocentelli was on parole after being released early from a 9-year prison sentence—also for burglary.

He had previously been released early from prison sentences that he received for burglary in 2005, 2004, and 2002.

Nocentelli’s scheduled to be paroled on December 27, 2020. Mark your calendar.
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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

NO BALONEY: "Subway Bandit" Suspect Is Arrested, Charged With Robbing Northbrook Sandwich Shop

Feldman (Cook Co. Sheriff's Dept)
A man who was wanted for questioning in connection with a series of armed robberies around our neighborhood and nearby Lincoln Park is in the custody of Lake County authorities tonight.

Adam B. Feldman, 26, of Northbrook is charged with robbing a Subway restaurant at knifepoint in that city on Sunday.

He has not been yet charged in connection with the robbery of Subway restaurants in Wrigleyville and near the Belmont CTA station. However, Chicago police issued a citywide alert for Feldman on Monday, saying that he was wanted for questioning in connection with those crimes as well as the theft of an auto in Lake View and the subsequent attempted robbery of a Lincoln Park tanning salon.

Surveillance images of a man preparing to rob a Subway
restaurant in Wrigleyville on Saturday. Chicago police want to
talk with Feldman about the robbery and other crimes.
While Feldman has had a handful of arrests in Cook County since 2007, he has only been convicted once—for escaping or violating the terms of court-ordered electronic monitoring. He was given 30 months probation in that case.

As CWB reported early Tuesday, Feldman is also facing burglary, theft, and identity theft charges in Lake County for allegedly stealing a woman's car and using her credit cards last month. He is being held on $100,000 bond. Again.
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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

AWKWARD: Emanuel Robbery Missing From City Crime List

UPDATE FEB 21, 2:15PM—City Chief Data Officer Tom Schenk Jr. stated via Twitter Friday that "we [identified] the issue and fixed it." The Emanuel robbery is now online with another 114 crimes that were "omitted in the past 8 years" due to the glitch, Schenk said. We have asked Schenk for more information about what caused the omission.

Needless to say, we're intrigued that the mayor's son would be affected by a SNAFU that affected just 115 of the 2,864,209 crimes reported in Chicago over the past 8 years.

CWB's original report from 9:33PM on February 17 follows.


Fresh questions are being raised today about the accuracy and transparency of crime statistics provided under Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

CWB has found that the beating and robbery of Emanuel's teenage son on December 19 does not appear anywhere in the Chicago Data Portal—a city-run public web site that is supposed to be so accurate, the Chicago Police Department used its existence as an excuse to stop issuing annual reports to citizens after nearly 50 years.

Emanuel Discovery

After two armed robberies were reported in Emanuel's neighborhood this week, a CWB editor visited the city database to compare year-over-year robbery rates for that area.

Emanuel's case, HX548723, is missing from the city's crime list.
Other case numbers may be missing if they are assigned to
 non-criminal matters like traffic accidents.
He didn't get very far: "The robbery of the mayor's son was probably the highest-profile robbery in Chicago last year," he said, "Its absence screamed at me."

CWB contacted the Chicago Police Department about the missing data on Tuesday morning. No one has responded to our inquiry.

No matter how we searched the Data Portal for the Emanuel incident, it never showed up. We searched by the police case number. By street. By police beat. By crime category. Everything. It's not there.

Not The First Time

Less than a year ago, CWB reported that more than 20% of Lake View crimes were missing from the city's Data Portal over the course of a month.

Chicago magazine investigative reporters David Bernstein and Noah Isackson asked a police spokesman about the omissions in their award-winning two-part report about the manipulation of city crime stats. The spokesman called it a "glitch."

But, the Chicago Tribune and other major mainstream outlets rely on the Data Portal's information to power their own crime stat websites. When the Data Portal is wrong, bad crime stats are pushed out to the public with the seeming endorsement of, say, a 168-year-old metropolitan newspaper.

And when crime stats appear under a trusted masthead—regardless of their accuracy—politicians eat it up. Uptown Alderman James Cappleman to ABC7 this month:
Per the Chicago Tribune, since 2011 when I started office, crime has dropped over 25 percent in the 46th Ward, except in Uptown where violent crime has dropped 39 percent.
Yeah. Actually that should be "per the city-run Data Portal." The Tribune merely turns city-provided data into colorful graphics.

The City's Crime Bible

Before CWB learned that a large chunk of Lake View crimes weren't appearing in the Data Portal last year, we relied on the site while researching a story about crime rate changes in all of Chicago's 50 wards.

Four days later, 44th Ward Alderman Tom Tunney released a police-generated report that compared reported crimes in his ward during 2003 and 2013.

With more than 10,000 crimes involved, our story's crime count varied from Tunney's by .1734% — reinforcing the point that the stats provided by the Data Portal are the same stats provided by city authorities.

Garbage In, Garbage Out

So, the question has to be asked. If the armed robbery of the mayor's own son is missing from a cornerstone of the city's crime transparency campaign, what's happening with the hundreds of thousands of other crimes that average people report?

And why on Earth should anyone believe it when politicians and police executives point to these statistics to claim that "crime is down?"

Considering that a citywide election is less than a week away, we doubt that current office holders will trip over themselves to get the crime database corrected. (If they did, the Tribune might have accurate information. James.)
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BLIND SPOTS: Man Robbed At Gunpoint Near Mayor's House Monday; CVS Robbed Nearby This Morning

Developing: In addition to the robbery at gunpoint reported below, the CVS Pharmacy at 4051 N. Lincoln—about five blocks from the mayor's home—was robbed at knifepoint at 5:15AM today. It is the second time that store has been robbed this year.

A CVS clerk told police that a white or Hispanic man brandished a knife or box cutter, pulled the drawer open, and took the store's cash.

The offender today was described as being 5'3" tall, 180 pounds, wearing a black hat, beige jacket, and black shoes.

Our original report about the robbery at gunpoint follows.
A Lincoln Square man was robbed at gunpoint around 7:40PM Monday just three blocks from Mayor Rahm Emanuel's police-fortified Lake View home. No one is in custody.

When police met the victim in the 4500 block of Hermitage, he reported that three black male teenagers dressed in all black approached him, produced at least one handgun, and demanded his valuables. Witnesses saw the offenders escape eastbound on Sunnyside from Ashland.

Taken in the robbery were the victim's laptop. iPhone 5, iPod, and wallet. His phone's last pings showed it heading past Fullerton on southbound Lake Shore Drive.

Mayor Emanuel's own son reported being beaten and robbed steps from the family's front door on December 19. Days later, Emanuel told reporters that his son had been victimized in a "blind spot" and promised to have police sweep the city to rid it of such robbery-friendly backwaters.
There are some blind spots and [the police are] gonna address it from a safety on the block — not the safety of the house [issue] for us…it’s their job to do it for everybody in the city — not just us.
Since that statement, the 19th police district's second-in-command has been assigned to personally inspect conditions outside of the mayor's house every working day.

Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy told reporters after the Emanuel robbery that the cops who sit in front and back of the mayor's home 24/7 "are sitting on the mayor’s house. They are not sitting on the mayor’s neighborhood," a fact that surely became crystal clear to one Lincoln Square resident last night.
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SUSPECT IDENTIFIED: "Subway Bandit" Crime Spree Escalates Monday; Suburban Man Sought

Surveillance images of the man preparing to rob a Wrigleyville
Subway sandwich shop on Saturday. (Chicago Police)
UPDATE FEBRUARY 17 5:25PM — Lake County authorities have taken the suspect into custody.
Chicago and suburban police investigators late Monday identified a suspect in the armed robberies of two Wrigleyville and Boystown-area Subway restaurants as the man’s week-long crime spree continued to escalate. CWB is withholding the 26-year-old north suburban man’s name.

While police issued an alert about the robberies to Lake View businesses late Sunday, the department began giving the case its full attention Monday evening after the suspect allegedly stole a car from a Lake View Walgreens parking lot, then immediately drove to Lincoln Park where he is said to have brandished a knife during a tanning salon robbery.

According to police, the key was left in a 2007 Audi while its owner ran into the Walgreens near Irving Park and Sheridan around 4PM yesterday. You know what happened next.

The Ultimate Exposure salon at 2210 N. Clark
Within 30 minutes, an employee of the Ultimate Exposure tanning salon at 2210 N. Clark reported being held at knifepoint during an attempted robbery. The offender fled in the stolen Audi.

Now, Northbrook police believe the man is responsible for robbing a Subway restaurant at knifepoint in their north suburban community Sunday morning.

Court records show that the suspect was charged with burglary and theft last month after allegedly stealing a woman’s car in the north suburbs. His bond had been set at $100,000.

Previous arrest records show the man to be 6-feet tall and to weigh about 150 pounds. Mugshots and Facebook posts show that he has brown hair and usually has a few days’ growth of facial hair around his upper lip and chin.
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Monday, February 16, 2015

POLICE ALERT: Armed Robber Targeting Businesses Here

Surveillance images of the suspect. (Chicago Police Department)
Chicago police late yesterday issued a community alert to warn of an armed robber who targeted at least two local businesses last week.

Early Sunday, we reported that cops were investigating connections between three robberies and one theft at area businesses last week.

Police are publicly connecting two of the incidents, both armed robberies of neighborhood Subway restaurant locations—one in Wrigleyville on Saturday and the other on nearby Belmont Avenue last Sunday.

The Wrigleyville victim said the robber produced a knife during the hold-up while the Belmont store’s employee said the robber brandished a pair of scissors.

The alert describes the Belmont offender as a white male with a slim build, 25- to 30-years-old, wearing a black North Face brand jacket.

It goes on to describe the Wrigleyville robber as male, white, 25- to 35-years-old, 160 pounds, wearing a green or olive drab jacket over a blue hoodie. The thighs of the man’s jeans appeared to be bleached or stonewashed.

In addition to the two incidents that are being officially connected, detectives are also exploring the theft of money from an Uptown 7-Eleven’s cash register on Friday and the robbery of a Shell gas station in North Center on Thursday. Victims in those cases provided offender descriptions that are very similar to the Subway robber. Further details are in our original report from Sunday morning.
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Sunday, February 15, 2015

SHORT ON BREAD?: *Another* Subway Restaurant Robbed Here; Cops Eye Uptown, North Center Links

Google Street View
UPDATE FEBRUARY 16: Chicago police have now issued an alert that publicly connects two of the cases listed in our original report below.
Wrigleyville's Subway restaurant was robbed Saturday afternoon by a man armed with a knife, just days after a different Subway shop was robbed here by a man armed with scissors.

Detectives are working to determine if there is a connection between the two Subway cases as well as to a couple of other business robberies this week in nearby Uptown and North Center.

All of the victims provided similar offender descriptions.

Saturday - Wrigleyville Subway Robbery

Shortly before 5 o'clock Saturday evening, an employee of the Subway restaurant at 3776 Clark reported that an offender came into the store, produced a knife, and took the cash register tray. (CPD case HY151703)
Offender description: Male, white, about 25, tall, wearing a dark "nylon type" jacket with a dark hoodie underneath. He also wore jeans with a white fade on the front and black gym shoes. 
UPDATE 1:43AM FEBRUARY 16: In a newly-released alert, detectives now say the offender wore a "green or olive drab" jacket over a blue sweatshirt and "blue jeans with bleached or stonewashed sections on the front and back thighs."

Friday - Uptown 7-Eleven Targeted

Police responded to the 7-Eleven store at 4150 Broadway around 4:30 Friday morning after an employee there reported that a man came into the store, "accessed the register," and took money. It was not immediately clear how the man accessed the cash drawer, but police classified the incident as a theft rather than a robbery. The classification—if accurate—means that the clerk was not harmed or threatened. (Case HY149819)
Offender description: Male, white, 25- to 30-years-old. He is said to have worn a black hooded jacket and an orange skull cap.

Thursday - North Center Shell Station Robbery

An employee reported that a man came into the Shell station at Montrose and Western around 10:30PM Thursday, implied that he had a weapon, and ordered the clerk to open the cash register and give him money. No weapon was seen in the robbery, which yielded about $150. (Case number TBD)
Offender description: Male, white, 25- to 30-years-old, 5'9" tall, 150 pounds, brown hair. He was said to have worn a brown jacket, blue jeans, and a black scarf around his face.
Defying black ice-covered sidewalks, a man robbed the Subway restaurant at 1020 Belmont last Sunday night while brandishing a pair of scissors. That offender was described as white, 25- to 30-years-old, wearing a black North Face brand jacket with its hood pulled up.
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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

CENTER ON HALSTED: Man Threatened With Knife, Arrest Made

A man who allegedly brandished a knife and threatened to stab another man outside the Center on Halsted was taken into custody by Chicago police within minutes Thursday evening.

The offender, who had been seen running toward Addison, apparently circled the block and popped up across the street from the COH while police were speaking with the victim. An arrest was quickly completed.

Aggravated assault charges are being sought. (Case HY148438)

Arrest In Uptown Robbery

Officers made another important arrest earlier Thursday evening after a boy punched a woman in her face and stole her phone near Montrose and Racine in Uptown.

Police arrested the underage attacker about 20 minutes after the robbery as he, too, returned to the scene of the crime. (Case HY14831)

Hi Boys!

Speaking of juveniles. 911 callers reported seeing two unsupervised boys hanging out at the Belmont CTA station shortly before 6 o’clock Wednesday night. Callers estimated the boys to be 10- and 12-years-old.

As it turns out, they are both supposed to be under the supervision of the Lawrence Hall residential youth center in Lincoln Square. A CWB reader reported that one of the boys was wearing only a t-shirt and shorts.

Burglary Beat

A Boystown resident was surprised to find her front door open in the 800 block of Aldine around 8:40 Tuesday morning. She was even more surprised to find a complete stranger rummaging around inside.

Police responded quickly, but the unknown man was long gone. He’s described as white, bearded, 5’10” tall, and wearing a red hat. Recorded as criminal trespassing to a residence in case HY146416.

Another confirmed break-in: 3600 block of Paulina. Discovered early Wednesday.
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CARD-CARRYING MEMBERS: Man Charged With Using Bar-Goer's Credit Card At Boystown 7-Eleven

Members (Cook Co Sheriff's Dept)
A man arrested while allegedly trying to use a credit card stolen from a woman at Roscoe's Tavern to make hundreds of dollars worth of purchases at a Boystown convenience store this weekend was suspected of trying to pickpocket another woman at an Old Town bar last May.

Jimmy Members, 48, of Gage Park is charged with one count of theft of lost or mislaid property after police say they saw him drop stolen credit cards on the floor when they confronted him inside the 7-Eleven at Roscoe and Halsted around 2:40AM Saturday.

Officers went to the store after the alleged pickpocketing victim was alerted to her card being used as she reported the theft to other cops.

Members had "a bundle of [cash] totaling $570 in his inner coat pocket that he could not account for" at the time of his arrest, police said. Also inventoried by arresting officers were four drivers licenses—one from Texas, one from South Carolina, and two from Illinois—plus Visa cards issued by Wells Fargo, Chase, BAO, and EflexGroup; and a Target credit card. Police were unable to immediately contact owners of the other cards.

Last May, Members was charged with simple battery after allegedly striking a woman who tried to take his picture after she felt someone's hand in her purse at Old Town Ale House, 219 W. North Ave, at 2:45AM. The victim in that case found her wallet in the bar's doorway after Members exited, but theft charges could not be filed because the victim was unable to "positively state" that Members took it.

Charges were dropped in the Old Town case when the victim failed to show up in court.

Members made headlines in 2011 after striking and killing a tourist near Millennium Park while driving under the influence. Charged with DUI, reckless homicide with a motor vehicle, and aggravated DUI involving a death, Members was convicted only of driving with a blood alcohol content of .16. He received a sentence of 10 months probation and community service.
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COURT REPORT: 4-Year Terms For Lake View Robbery Offender; 47 Counts Against Alleged Boystown Sex Trafficker

Smith (Illinois Dept of Corrections)
A wave of robberies rolled through nearby Lake View early on September 14, 2013, as five victims reported being robbed and sometimes beaten by a groups of two to six men.

On Friday, an 18-year-old pleaded guilty to being involved in two of those crimes.

Thomas Smith received two four-year terms to be served concurrently after he pleaded guilty to one count of robbery and one count of attempted armed robbery.

Smith was charged with being part of a group that attacked and robbed a victim near Clifton and School at 1:30AM that day. He was also charged in connection with one of two robberies at gunpoint that played out two hours later at Southport and Roscoe.

No one else was charged in connection with these two crimes.

Grand Jury Returns 47 Counts Against Iowa Teen

Mahalbasic (Cook Co. Sheriff's Dept)
An 18-year-old Waterloo, Iowa, man has seen his legal challenges go from bad to extremely bad after a Cook County grand jury returned a 47-count, 98-page “true bill” in connection with alleged sex trafficking at a Belmont Avenue hotel.

Ferid Mahalbasic was originally charged last month with involuntary servitude and involuntary sexual servitude of a  minor after he allegedly brought two teenage girls, one of whom is a minor, to Chicago from Iowa.

Once they were here, proseuctors allege, Mahalbasic began offering the girls as prostitutes in an operation that he based in a City Suites Hotel guest room near the Belmont Red Line station.

Prosecutors say Mahalbasic threatened at least one of the girls if she did not give him the money she collected from Johns.

But the Cook County grand jury returned far more than just two counts agains Mahalbasic, who now faces 47 individual criminal charges:
• 14 counts of various forms of involuntary servitude
• 6 counts of various forms of sex servitude
• 4 counts of aggravated trafficking/recruiting
• 6 counts of trafficking for labor
• 3 counts of promoting juvenile prostitution
• 1 count of juvenile prostitution for profit
• 6 counts of various forms of kidnapping
• 7 counts of promoting prostitution
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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

GOOD FOR THEM (BUT NOT FOR YOU): Nine Neighborhood Cops Promoted, Sending Manpower To New Record Low

UPDATE 12:43AM FEB 11 - The promotion list is out. Nine 19th district cops are leaving to become detectives, not eight as previously reported below.
The Chicago Police Department this week announces the promotions of 100 police officers into its detective division and sources within the department have told CWB that a good number of those new detectives will be taken from the streets of our grossly understaffed 19th district.

While the list of officers being moved has not yet been made public, multiple sources who are familiar with the movements have told us that about eight 19th district officers will be moving out.

As CWB reported on Sunday, the police department is not allowing any officers to transfer into our district this month. That’s despite the fact that the district's manpower neared an all-time low in January.

343 officers were assigned to our area last month, down 27% from the 468 cops assigned here in late 2011. The district’s staffing low point of 340 cops came last March.

The newly-announced detective promotions are certain to set a new low.
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"HELMONT": Restaurant Robbed At Scissor-Point

The treacherous black ice that covered area sidewalks Sunday evening was no match for the even more treacherous stretch of road we call “Helmont.”

Despite neck-snapping icy sidewalks that threatened to hamper his getaway, a man brandished scissors to rob the Subway sandwich shop at 1020 Belmont around 11:15PM.

Police say the offender was last seen heading toward the Belmont CTA station with the restaurant's cash.

The robber is described as a white man, 25 to 30 years old, wearing a black North Face jacket with its hood pulled up. (CPD case HY144771)

Lincoln Park Robbery

Four to five men jumped a victim from behind and stole his black iPhone 5s near Halsted and Wrightwood early Sunday morning, according to a police report.

The male victim told police that the offenders—all Hispanic men in their late 20’s—attacked him shortly before 5AM. No arrests were made.
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IT'S UNANIMOUS: One Year Later, Neighborhood Group Enthusiastically Backs Broadway Youth Center

BYC director Imani Rupert (L) and general counsel Michelle Wetzel
present to a 2014 Southeast Lake View Neighbors meeting. (DNAInfo)
One year after a neighborhood group voted 41-21 against supporting a zoning variance for the Broadway Youth Center (BYC), the same group Monday voted unanimously to support the center in an upcoming renewal hearing.

BYC ultimately received approval last winter from the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals to operate its youth drop-in and counseling services for one year from Wellington United Church of Christ, 615 Wellington, despite the Southeast Lake View Neighbors’ “no” vote.

Fueled by news that BYC staff had been accused of obstructing police—and a now-former BYC manager’s email that threw race, class, homophobia, transphobia, and discrimination against the disabled into the mix—the original zoning issue drew boisterous packed houses to SELVN meetings last year.

But a delightful 36 people showed up Monday, with one woman who lives near the Wellington church telling the audience that she found BYC to be “always so welcoming” as she passed the center’s doors.

And Michelle Wetzel, general counsel for BYC's parent organization, said "only one person came to office hours" established to address neighborhood concerns last year, "and she brought donations."

After a brief Q & A with Wetzel and BYC director Imani Rupert, SELVN members voted 19-0 to support the center's zoning renewal, then broke into spontaneous applause.

“We’ve come a long way,” Wetzel beamed as the claps continued, “Thank you very much.”


The Chicago Zoning Board of Appeals is expected to take up the BYC renewal request in March.

The ZBA “doesn’t offer” one-year renewals, 44th ward worker Erin Duffy told SELVN members last month, saying the board’s action last year was “a special circumstance.”

Nonetheless, a revamped “Good Neighbor Agreement” between BYC and 44th Ward Alderman Tom Tunney specifies that the alderman and BYC will “seek to have the ZBA issue another one-year special use permit.”

Whether or not special one-year stints will be allowed is “up to the Zoning Board of Appeals,” Wetzel said Monday.

Duffy and Tunney's chief of staff, Bennett Lawson, did not respond to emails seeking comment on Monday.

Three SELVN members abstained from Monday's vote.
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Sunday, February 08, 2015

SOLD A BILL OF GOODS: Despite Political Promises, No Cops Are Allowed To Join Neighborhood District In February

The Chicago Police Department is not allowing any officers to transfer into our 19th district this month, according to the Second City Cop blog, even though manpower here is on the cusp of an all-time low.

The elimination of transfer opportunities comes despite local Alderman Tom Tunney's promise on January 16 that transfers into our district "will continue until we are back to the staffing level that we were prior to the consolidation of the 19th and 23rd districts [in March 2012]."

Despite the political theatrics and boasts, our district had only 343 officers last month according to CPD documents—that's two fewer than January 2014 and down a whopping 125 since the district consolidation.

One In The Front, Two Out The Back

Our district lost 27% of its manpower between October 2011 and last March's low water mark of 340 officers.

Then, suddenly, the department began allowing a small number of officers to transfer into our district. Local aldermen Tom Tunney and James Cappleman will tell you the transfers began because of their efforts to return the district to October 2011 strength.

We gained 11 officers in April of last year. We were up 22 officers by July. But, then, the headcount started dwindling again as the number of officers transferring in was off-set by officers leaving.

Down 6 cops in August. We lost another 5 in September. Minus 2 in October and minus another 2 in November. And four more were gone last month. 
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Saturday, February 07, 2015

GULP!: Pickpocket Arrested While Making $700 Purchase At Boystown 7-Eleven

Roscoe's on the left, 7-Eleven on the right. (Google)
Now THIS is one stupid criminal.

A Boystown bar pickpocket was arrested this morning while attempting to use the victim's credit card to make $700 worth of transactions at a nearby convenience store.

Officers were flagged down at 2:30AM near Belmont and Clark by a woman who reported that her wallet had been stolen at Roscoe's Tavern on the corner of Halsted and Roscoe.

While speaking with officers, the victim learned that one of her credit cards was being used at that very moment to make purchases worth $100, $200, and $400 at a convenience store across the street from Roscoe's.

Additional officers scrambled to the 7-Eleven, arriving just in time to apprehend the greedy offender.

Police found credit cards belonging to another apparent victim in the arrestee's possession during a search. Cops were not immediately successful in reaching the second victim, who lives in Streeterville.
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THE THAW: Woman Robbed At Gunpoint On Wrigleyville Strip

Two men robbed a woman at gunpoint on Wrigleyville's Clark Street bar strip early this morning. No one was injured and no arrests have been made.

Police met the victim across from Al's Italian Beef near Clark and Sheffield at 2:10AM. There, she reported that two men approached her and one produced a handgun. She surrendered her purse, containing a wallet and phone.

The offenders were last seen running southbound in the west alley of Clark from Newport. Descriptions:
1) Male, black, 26 years old, 6-feet tall, wearing a gray hoodie and blue jeans. He was armed with a handgun.
2) Male, black, 6-feet tall, wearing a lighter color gray hoodie and jeans.
CPD robbery case HY142668.
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Thursday, February 05, 2015

FAIL: Thieves Try To Steal ATM From Lake View High Rise; Safes Targeted At North Side Businesses

Chicago police are investigating the attempted theft of an entire ATM from a Lake View high-rise overnight. The thieves didn't get very far.

Officers were called to the Park Place Tower, 655 Irving Park Road, around 6:30 this morning after someone stumbled across the machine, abandoned in a parking garage stairwell.

Police say the machine was heavily damaged in the failed heist and, while there were a substantial number of pry marks, it did not appear that the bandits succeeded in accessing cash. (Case HY140213)

Detectives are trying to determine if the brazen theft attempt is connected to a series of burglaries across the North Side in which safes have been stolen from businesses, including Aldi grocery stores.

What Would Jesus Do?

In an unrelated matter, a delivery driver reported being robbed at knifepoint Saturday evening, just a half-block south of the building targeted in the ATM heist.

The victim told police that an assailant with a distinctive tattoo pulled a knife and robbed him as he made a delivery in the 3900 block of Pine Grove around 7:30PM.

According to the victim, the offender is male, black, in his late 20's or early 30's, 5'11" tall, and 160 pounds. He "had a lot of hair on his head," was well dressed, wore a black button down coat, blue jeans, and black and white gym shoes.

His knife-wielding right hand sported a cross-shaped tattoo--and the tips of the cross have points on them.
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Wednesday, February 04, 2015

BLOTTER: Center On Halsted Draws Action After Weeks Of Calm

After a few relatively quiet months, things have picked up at the Center on Halsted (COH), 3656 N. Halsted.

Love Lost

Police responded to the COH on January 22 after receiving multiple reports of a woman “pulling on a male’s privates” outside a third-floor basketball game there. The alleged “pulling” was apparently not the friendly variety.

They arrested Tatiana Love, 19, for allegedly biting and scratching a man who broke up with her earlier in the day. When a COH security guard intervened, Love allegedly punched him in the face and fled the building. Cops caught her on nearby Waveland Avenue.

Love, who lists The Crib youth shelter as her home address, is charged with one count each of domestic battery and battery.

That's What You Think

Uptown resident Brian Conner, 22, is charged with criminal trespass and two counts of assault in connection with a January 20 incident at the Center.

Security told police that Conner was “passed out…for an extended period of time” inside the COH. When they woke him up and asked him to leave, Conner allegedly “became enraged…lunged forward” and warned, “if you touch me, I’m going to come back and kill you.”

Conner was detained by the guards until police arrived. They have not been killed.


A convicted robbery offender charged with battering a COH case worker last October was let off the hook when the victim failed to show up in court. At the time of his arrest, the convict was also living at The Crib youth shelter.
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Monday, February 02, 2015

UNDISTURBED SNOW: The Burglar's Best Friend

Snowfall makes the job easy for area burglars.

Year after year, police report, burglars are found targeting homes that are surrounded by undisturbed snow.

No footprints? No shoveling? That means nobody's home and the residence shoots to the top of likely targets.

Before this weekend's snow fell, a series of burglaries were reported in and near our neighborhood. Most of the break-ins were through locked back doors:
• January 25 — 3700 block of Pine Grove. Forcible entry.
• January 25 — 1500 block of Montana. Forcible entry.
• January 26 — 600 block of Wrightwood. Forcible entry.
• January 28 — 3600 block of Pine Grove. Forcible entry.
• January 29 — 1000 block of Oakdale. Forcible entry.
• January 30 — 1200 block of Wellington. Forcible entry.
In addition, two notable business burglaries have been reported.
• A Dunkin Donuts near the Addison Red Line station was burglarized sometime Saturday night or Sunday. Police said a "safe is involved." 
• Burglars struck a cellular phone repair shop in the 4000 block of Damen on January 24. Store managers reported about 100 cell phones and a laptop were taken.
No force was used to enter either of the targeted businesses, according to police reports, indicating that a door may have been left open or a key was used.
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MAPPED: 2014's Most Robbery-Prone Streets

Here it is. CWB’s third annual list of the most robbery-filled blocks in Wrigleyville and Boystown.

Muggings were down 34% in the neighborhood last year, due in large part to strategic patrols by 19th district officers. But a local police zone that covers the center of Wrigleyville and Boystown—beat 1924—still managed to rank #3 citywide for robberies last year.

To no reasonable person’s surprise, the intersection of Belmont and Sheffield is easily the most dangerous area in our neighborhood, with 25 robberies reported there last year. That’s down from 36 robberies in 2013.

Also notable this year is that only one of the robbery hot spots lies east of Halsted Street. It's on Belmont, of course.. In 2013, six of the most dangerous blocks were east of Halsted.

See 2013’s most dangerous HERE and 2012’s HERE.
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Sunday, February 01, 2015

SNOW JOB: A Blizzard Of Bad Crime Info From Area Politicians

Major crime stats for the week of January 19
to 25 as given in Alderman Tom Tunney's
newsletter (top) and on the CPD's own
website (bottom). 
UPDATE FEBRUARY 2, 7:32PM: The crime update in Alderman Tom Tunney's newsletter is custom created for each of the district's aldermen on a weekly basis by an officer in the 19th district.

According to multiple sources, the reports are designed to inform area aldermen and their staffs of four specific crimes—murder, rape, robbery, and burglary—that have occurred in their respective wards. The reports were not meant for public consumption. 

Going forward, the aldermanic reports will either have a corrected graph or the graph will be eliminated altogether.
While we common folk shovel the white stuff, our aldermen and some candidates seeking their jobs are shoveling, too. But the stuff they're shoveling isn't white!

Local Alderman Tom Tunney continues to include purported 44th ward "crime statistics" in his weekly newsletter. And this week's stats are even less accurate than the ones he distributed last week.

Tunney's graph of "index crimes" shows one criminal sexual assault, three robberies, and four burglaries for the week of January 19 to 25.

But the Chicago Police Department's own website shows that Tunney didn't mention 31 index crimes that should have been included on the chart. Missing from Tunney's email are two aggravated batteries, 27 thefts, and two motor vehicle thefts.

Vanishing Act

This photo from Alderman James Cappleman's
campaign tells a story much different from the one
he intended.
Uptown Alderman James Cappleman's constituents began receiving a "tough on crime" mailer from his campaign this weekend. The photo he chose for the mailer tells a very important story itself.

There's James leaning on a squad car and talking to a big, burly sergeant. But, those numbers on top of the car start with "23"—meaning the car is assigned to the 23rd district, which ceased to exist nearly three years ago.

Indeed, the alderman's photo captures all too well what has happened on his watch: An ill-advised merger took away our police district and the new, bigger district has lost 27% of its police manpower.

Ironically, the current district's force of sergeants has been particularly hard-hit since the merger. Department records show that today's 19th district was served by 49 sergeants at the time of Cappleman's photo. Last month, only 26 sergeants remained.

We showed Cappleman's picture to some cops who currently and recently worked here. None of them recognized the sergeant as a current co-worker.

The Other Extreme

Down in Lincoln Park, 43rd ward aldermanic candidates have participated in a series of forums recently. Since their neighborhood is served by the same police district as ours, crime's an issue. But one candidate went off the deep end:

"The biggest challenge we have in the 19th [district]," Jerry Quandt told an audience last month, "is we are down more than 300 police officers."

Whoa. Whoa. Whoa, Jerry. We're down 125 officers as of last month. And let's not give anybody ideas about taking away 300. If they did, crime would really go "down."

Meanwhile, DNAInfo Chicago reports that Lincoln Park candidate Caroline Vickrey told an audience last week that, "she would implement a blog-style crime blotter with up-to-the-minute crime statistics." Sounds.......familiar.
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