By Bob Uphues
Suspected burglar fails to cover tracks
Riverside police on Monday arrested a Chicago man suspected of stealing a purse on Dec. 14 out of a vehicle parked in the lot outside Riverside Wine and Spirits at 2720 Harlem Ave.
Jose Contreras, 30, was picked up by police working in an undercover vehicle about 11 a.m. on Dec. 17 as he left his job in North Riverside, said Police Chief Thomas Weitzel.
According to police, Contreras grabbed the purse out of the vehicle and then ran to a van, which sped away. Police, however, were able to track the van's whereabouts through the victim's iPhone, which was inside the purse.
Police lost the trail when Contreras reportedly threw the phone out of the car and into a trucking yard parking lot in the vicinity of 43rd Street and Keating Avenue in Chicago. Officers recovered the cellphone, which had fingerprints on it, and kept it for evidence.
Meanwhile, video surveillance cameras at the Riverside liquor store showed a man taking the purse from the vehicle. Police also learned that the suspect was a frequent customer and that he worked at a nearby grocery store.
On Monday, police staked out the grocery store parking lot and saw the van parked there. After about five hours, Contreras came out of the store and walked to the van, where police took him into custody. He reportedly told police he stole the phone because he needed a new one.
Contreras was charged with felony burglary. He was in bond court Tuesday.
Felony cannabis charge
A 20-year-old LaGrange man, whose business cards tout a line of cannabis-related clothing, was charged with selling the genuine item last week in Brookfield.
Daniel Argentati is charged with possession of more than 30 grams of cannabis, which is a felony; unlawful delivery of cannabis; and possession of drug paraphernalia. He has a preliminary court date on Dec. 19 at the Maybrook courthouse.
Police were called to the area around Burlington Avenue and DuBois Boulevard on Dec. 16 at 9:56 p.m. to check on a suspicious vehicle that had been parked in that area for some time and had been parked there on prior occasions.
As police approached the vehicle, they observed the front passenger, later identified as Argentati, making furtive movements. An officer stated that he observed a bag of cannabis at Argentati's feet inside the vehicle. The officer also reported seeing a large zip-lock bag containing cannabis on the passenger seat. Cannabis was reportedly found in a jar inside Argentati's book bag, along with more baggies, a pocket knife and a stack of business cards for a company called Cannabis Clothing Inc. In all, police recovered 35.3 grams of cannabis from the vehicle.
Argentati reportedly had $200 in cash tucked into one of his shoes.
A 20-year-old Brookfield woman, who was a passenger in the vehicle, was given a local ordinance ticket for possession of a small amount of cannabis. Two other female passengers were released without being charged.
No serious injuries in fiery car wreck
A 28-year-old Elmwood Park man was reportedly drunk when he lost control of his car and careened across all four lanes of traffic while heading northbound on First Avenue, and barreled 50 feet into the forest preserve near Waubansee Road, where the wrecked car burst into flames.
When police arrived, the driver, Gonzalo Aguilera, was reportedly walking around dazed outside of his 2005 Subaru, which had sustained heavy damage and was on fire. He had suffered an obvious head injury, according to police, and was transported to Loyola University Medical Center.
Aguilera was released back into police custody about two hours later and reportedly admitted drinking margaritas and a large amount of beer, in addition to having smoked cannabis earlier in the evening.
"Although Mr. Aguilera was injured, he was fortunate that he did not strike another vehicle or pedestrian causing further injuries," said Riverside Police Chief Thomas Weitzel.
Aguilera was charged with two counts of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol and cited for several traffic offenses.
North Riverside police reported three vehicle break-ins in the past week, adding to a string of similar incidents in recent weeks.
On Dec. 10, a 58-year-old Downers Grove man said someone broke out the windows of his car, parked in the 8800 block of Cermak Road, and removed an iPad and a brief case.
On Dec. 11, a 37-year-old Chicago woman told police that several items she had just purchased were stolen from her vehicle, which was parked in the lot at the North Riverside Park Mall, 7501 Cermak Road.
That same day a resident of the 2200 block of Westover Avenue reported that someone punched out a lock to gain entry to a work van parked on the street. Taken were three boxes containing various tools.
These items were obtained from police reports filed by the Riverside, North Riverside and Brookfield police departments, Dec. 10-17, and represent a portion of the incidents to which police responded. Unless otherwise indicated, anybody named in these reports has only been charged with a crime. These cases have not been adjudicated.