ELMHURST – Following a string of thefts and burglaries in Elmhurst, including the theft of a car left running in a driveway, the Elmhurst Police Department is offering a series of tips to help residents prevent similar crimes.
Elmhurst Deputy Chief of Operations Robert Tannehill said Elmhurst residents can take a role in deterring burglars through locking their vehicles, taking personal valuables with them when leaving their vehicles and reporting suspicious activity.
"It takes a team effort, community and the police working together, to deter the crime," Tannehill said.
Elmhurst police responded at 5 a.m. Nov. 27 to the 600 block of Fay Avenue for a report of a prowler in a garage.
It is alleged that Tyrone Wilson, 19, of the 6700 block of South Chappel Avenue, Chicago; Deanthony Webb, 23, of the 6700 block of South Paxton Avenue, Chicago; and Deonte Daniel, 21, of the 6900 block of South Clyde Avenue, Chicago, burglarized three vehicles on Gladys and Evergreen streets in Elmhurst, according to an investigation led by the Elmhurst Police Department.
The investigation also revealed more than 20 unlocked cars and several unlocked garages in north Elmhurst were entered to steal items of value and look for cars with keys in the ignition.
The men were each charged with burglary and possession of a stolen motor vehicle. The vehicle in the men’s possession allegedly was stolen the previous night in Villa Park.
Jamesha McChristine, 19, of the 7900 block of South Langley Avenue, Chicago, is accused of stealing a car that was left running in a driveway with a door ajar at about 3 p.m. Dec. 20 in the 200 block of Grantley Avenue.
McChristine has been charged with unlawful possession of a stolen motor vehicle, criminal damage to property and criminal damage to government-supported property.
Tannehill said he wasn't sure if the proximity of the 200 block of Grantley Avenue to major roadways such as Interstate 290 makes that area more at risk, but he said he believed McChristine and her companions came off the expressway and became lost in the neighborhood.
Tannehill added other communities in the Chicago area are experiencing the same criminal activity of automobile burglaries and thefts.
"It's the same thing – cars are being left open, people are forgetting to lock their vehicles. ... It's a trend, I think, all over," he said.
One way to avoid automobile burglaries is to reduce the opportunity for a burglar to want or be able to take things from the vehicle.
"Even if you're going to be some place for a short period of time, the best thing to do is shut the car off, lock the doors and make sure you have your stuff out of the car. Because you never know what could happen within a few seconds. ... It's just an opportunity for somebody to come and take a look in the car and take that property, so let's not give them that opportunity," Tannehill said.
He added people should take the key fob with them when leaving a vehicle, shut the car off and lock doors when making quick stops, double-check they have locked their vehicles and pay attention to their surroundings.
If people see something that "doesn't look right" or looks supicious, they should immediately call 911 to have a police officer respond to the scene to take a look at it.
"Call right away. That's why we have the police out there," Tannehill said. "They'll respond. They'll take a look."
Police officers also can come to a resident's house to explain how to make a home more burglary- and theft-proof, he said.
When a burglary occurs, police canvass the neighborhood to talk with neighbors about locking their vehicles at night, and they inform residents when a garage door is open or a car door is ajar so they can close it. Police officers also drive through parking lots to check if people have left valuables in their vehicles and leave notes accordingly or let the adjoining building's staff know.
"Having that officer presence out there helps deter crime. ... We can't always be all over the place, but we really try showing a presence as much as we can," Tannehill said.
McChristine is up for a status hearing Jan. 2 and arraignment Jan. 16 with DuPage County Judge Brian Telander. Daniel, Webb and Wilson are up for status hearings with Judge John Kinsella on Jan. 30, Feb. 6 and Feb. 7, respectively.