CICERO – Felony charges have been filed against a man suspected of multiple offenses of graffiti and damage to property in a series of incidents that began just after Christmas, police officials said in a news release Friday.
Jorge Alejandre, 34, of the 100 block of Lincoln, Aurora, was charged with felony criminal damage to property after he was arrested twice on Dec. 28 and Jan 18, for allegedly spray painting obscenities and threats against police and government officials.
During the first incident, Alejandre and two suspects from Cicero, Irving Vargas, 18, of the 1800 block of 56th Court, and Alejandro Herrera, 24, 1900 block of 48th Court, were involved in nine separate graffiti damage incidents. All three are self-admitted members of regional street gangs, police said.
“Graffiti is a critical component of street gang crimes. It’s the first step in street gang violence and crime,” Deputy Police Chief and former Gang Crimes Deputy Jerry Chlada said in the release. “In the case of Mr. Alejandre, police officers witnessed him damaging a property and then three weeks later witnessed him doing it again.”
Felony charges are rare, but police said graffiti should not be considered a “victimless crime.”
The graffiti focused on the Town government and Cicero police, using vulgar language in threatening the two bodies, and included gang markings. Police said all three suspects confessed to spray-painting the graffiti.
Each was charged with nine counts of criminal damage of property and was ordered to appear before the Town’s Administrative Ordinance Court, where they failed to make an appearance. They have one more opportunity to appear before the court before they receive an automatic judgment against them.
At the Jan. 18, incident, police witnessed Alejandre marking a building with gang-specific tags and language. The circumstances enabled police to bring the charges to the state’s attorney, who then charged Alejandre with one count of felony criminal damage to property. He will face an initial hearing at the Maybrook Courthouse, 1500 Maybrook Drive in Maywood.
Police said that during the questioning of one of the suspects for the initial graffiti activity admitted to targeting Cicero Police and the Town government, including Cicero Town President Larry Dominick, because the Town has been hard on the gangs, a comment which invoked pride from Dominick.
“When I first took office as President, I made it a priority to reduce and eventually eliminate gang activity in our Town,” Dominick said. “Our work is not done, but hearing a self-admitted gang member complain about our tough efforts against their street gangs means we are effective.”
Cicero Police urge Town residents to remain vigilant in spotting graffiti activity, especially in the back alleys and underpasses in their neighborhoods. Anyone who witnesses someone vandalizing a wall or -building with graffiti is encouraged to contact the Cicero Police Department at 708-652-2130. If someone notices graffiti already marked on a building or wall, they can call 708-878-3731.