“Thieves” steal the show in Park Ridge!

| April 2, 2013


The article below is an article written by Bob Chiarito, Special to the Tribune / March 18, 2013.

Residents of Park Ridge gathered at City Hall to listen to four convicted burglars who talked about their past crimes in an effort to help residents prevent it.

The men described how they’d identify a victim, sometimes go on a “dry run” to test police response time, and then ultimately break into a home, no matter if it had an alarm system, dog or other items commonly believed to be deterrents.

One burglar, Tim, said he preferred suburban areas because they were quiet, and he’d often do a Google map search to get to know escape routes. Ron said he would commit a “small crime” a day before a burglary to see how police responded. For the other two — Mark, who specialized in stealing furnaces and water heaters from foreclosed homes, and Kenny, who burglarized cars — it “didn’t matter” where they committed their crimes. If they targeted a home or car, there was little that could be done to stop them, they said.

Yet, they agreed to be part of a town hall meeting called the “Keepin’ It Real Burglary Presentation,” led by Chicago police Officer Maudessie Jointer of the 11th District, because residents can help themselves. The men, all convicted of simple burglary with less than two years left on their sentences, are in the work release stage of their punishment with the Safer Foundation, a group that helps convicts get back on their feet.

The four said committing crimes is in their past and they are determined to stay out of trouble. Illinois Department of Corrections rules prohibit the men’s last names from being released, Jointer said.

The men went through a list of questions posed by Jointer and then took questions from the crowd, many of whom audibly sighed at their answers, like when Ron said he would often enter a home by removing the window air conditioning unit.

Jointer repeatedly told the crowd of about 80 that the men were only speaking for themselves, not every burglar in the state, and that she hoped they would walk away “rethinking what you know about this crime of burglary.”

She said there is no silver bullet to shield residents from being victimized.

“If you came here to find out the one thing to stop your home or auto from being burglarized, there is no one thing.” Jointer said. “These are burglars of opportunity, capitalizing on a mistake you make.”

Jointer added that taking small steps and looking out for your neighbors are the types of things that work best to get a burglar to move on from your home.

“How many of you know your neighbor on the right side of your home? How many know your neighbor on the left” or across the street or behind your house? Jointer asked.

For Ron, who received a six-year sentence for residential burglary, the biggest deterrent was “things like this meeting. Community policing works.”

Tim said the biggest deterrent for him was “that old lady up late looking out the window.”

Other security measures were described as posing “no problem at all” by the men. Asked about alarms, Mark said “they are not a problem because once an alarm goes off, the police have to be dispatched. It takes exactly 12 minutes for them to arrive.” The men all said they usually were in a home between three and six minutes.

All four agreed that dogs were not a hurdle either. When asked specifically if he would pick an empty neighbor’s home or a home with a German shepherd, Tim shrugged and said “dogs love peanut butter.”

Tim continued to defy conventional wisdom when asked if he’d choose a home with a light on or a dark home to burglarize. “I’d go for the one with the light so I could see better,” he said.

Jointer reminded the audience to “rethink what you do.” She said changing the days and times light timers go on and off can help, along with having someone pick up your mail and shovel your walk when you’re not home.

As for car crimes, Jointer said not to keep your car registration in your glove box and to make sure you do not put your home address in your GPS system.

Other tips from Jointer and the men included making sure you have a steel door frame if you have a steel door, using two-inch screws instead of one-inch screws to secure the door frame; putting motion detectors in different areas; keeping cameras up high where they cannot be easily moved, and not to be afraid to call police if you sense something wrong in your neighborhood.

In addition, Jointer said if you arrive home and see that you’ve been burglarized, leave as quickly as possible.

“There’s nothing worth you losing your life over. If you see something, back out of your house and call 911,” Jointer said.


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Category: Articles, Community News, House & Home, Uncategorized

About the Author ()

Barbara is the publisher of People and Places Newspaper which she started in August of 2011. A lifelong resident of Schiller Park, she always felt it important that residents needed to be kept informed about their communities. Since newspaper coverage for Schiller Park stopped about twenty years ago, she made it a goal to bring a newspaper back to the area. She tries to include all of Leyden Township in her reporting and wants to keep true with the mission of the paper to "inform, educate and entertain."

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