Alderman calls for vigilance to thwart thefts from unlocked cars
By Anthony Caciopo
Regional News Editor
It wasn’t an agenda item at Tuesday evening’s City Council meeting, but more thefts overnight from unlocked vehicles, and sometimes of the vehicles themselves, was on the mind of Ald. Jerry McGovern of Ward 4.
He is the chairman of the city’s Public Safety Committee and a retired law enforcement officer.
“It’s time we turn around and get serious about this,” McGovern said. “We’re starting to really have a problem with it.”
While he spoke, McGovern held aloft a crime prevention bulletin from the Palos Heights Police Department titled “Lock it or lose it,” offering half a dozen tips to curb the situation which has been on the increase in communities all over Chicagoland.
The first tip on the bulletin is “Always secure doors and windows to your vehicle.”
As detailed in the Aug. 23 edition of The Regional News, the police in Palos Heights, Palos Park and Orland Park are dealing with small, mobile groups of thieves, often juveniles, who walk the streets at night checking doors of cars parked outside.
One or more of the thieves are typically dropped off by an accomplice who leaves the immediate area and either circles back to pick up his associates or meets them at a designated rendezvous point.
The newest round of thefts “Has become quite the crime,” Palos Heights Police Chief Larry Yott told The Regional. “It’s been around for a long time, but we used to see it happen parked out in front of the gym, the Jewel lot, at the doctors’ offices. But now, that’s completely fallen off. It’s all this overnight stuff.”
Money, laptops, cell phones and other electronic devices are among the most commonly stolen items, although credit cards and sometimes entire wallets with IDs are left for the thieves to take. In Palos Park and Orland Park, guns have been stolen and occasionally the keys/fob to the vehicle are left inside, which results in the vehicle being taken.
In an email issued by McGovern later that evening, he attached a copy of the crime prevention bulletin and urged recipients to “forward it to everyone you know.”
“This is part of an organized system of thievery,” he wrote. “Teens who have not yet turned 17 years of age are being used because they cannot be prosecuted for misdemeanors. That means their parents are contacted and when the parent arrives at the police station, the juvenile thief is sent back home. Therefore, he/she can come back tomorrow night to do the same.”
Look for the flyer on The Regional News Facebook page.
Ald. Jeff Key of Ward reminded people of the Lake Katherine and Botanical Gardens’ upcoming Monarch Butterfly Festival Sept. 16. Details can be found on page (blank) of this week’s Regional.
He also offered some preliminary information about the annual Holiday in The Heights celebration, which begins the day after Thanksgiving and runs through most of December.
“The Kris Kringle Market we had last year in the municipal parking lot (12217 S. Harlem Ave.) had, I think, 17 vendors. We have 44 vendors already committed (this year). It will be under-tent, it will be heated this year and we have a lot of exciting things happening throughout the city.”
Local businesses and organizations interested in taking part in this year’s expanded and improved Kris Kringle Market are invited to contact the Palos Area Chamber of Commerce at (708) 480-3025 or email@example.com.
In other news, the following motions were approved by unanimous vote (Ald. Alan Fulkerson of Ward 3 and Ald. Michael McGrogan of Ward 4 were not present): installation of a fire suppression system in the IT/phone room at City Hall at a cost of $18,000; “seconded” payment for work completed on the monument sign in front of City Hall in the amount of $31,656; and final payment in the amount of $49,606.85 for work completed on the manhole rehabilitation project.
Also: final payment of $14,555 for work completed on the 127th Street water main project; accepting the proposal of $62,288 for smoke testing and manhole inspection to meet requirements of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District; purchasing a Ford F-450 utility truck for $48,550, and going out to bid for a new water van/truck in an amount not to exceed $135,000.