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In the wake of the village experiencing its third street robbery in the past month, Brookfield police are warning kids to be alert on the streets and are asking parents to talk with their children at home about personal safety.
On April 27, the village of Brookfield sent out an email blast to residents who subscribe to the village's email alert feed, a day after the latest robbery involving a teenage victim wearing headphones.
The email alert, from Police Chief Steven Stelter, advises kids to walk in groups, to avoid secluded areas like alleys, and to be aware of your surroundings at all times. If wearing headphones, the chief stated, keep the volume low enough to be able to hear what's going on around you.
The chief also suggested avoiding the display of expensive items. In the Brookfield incidents, the items stolen were actually not being displayed. But the headphones were a giveaway.
Brookfield Lt. Edward Petrak said that police have contacted both Riverside-Brookfield and Lyons Township high schools, and both he and Riverside Detective Sgt. David Krull said police have stepped up patrols in the areas around local schools.
Petrak said officers have talked with teens walking around town, warning them of the robberies and have reached out to the village's auxiliary police force to increase patrols in the evening.
Brookfield has also enlisted the help of the west suburban Major Case Assistance Team (MCAT), said Petrak, which includes more than a dozen police agencies in the Chicago suburbs.
"You live in a safe area, but you've still got to be on guard," said Petrak.
About 4 p.m. on April 26, a teenager wearing headphones while walking down a Brookfield street was robbed. It was the third such incident since March 26, and police believe at least two of the incidents may be related.
In the most recent incident, police say a 15-year-old Brookfield boy was walking down the sidewalk when he was approached by a man on a bicycle, who asked the boy for directions to the Memorial Circle and whether he knew a girl named "Kay."
Wary of the man, the boy ducked into a nearby alley to avoid him, but the man followed him. Suddenly the man on the bike stated he had a gun and demanded the boy's iPod, which was in his pocket. The boy handed over the device, and the man left the area on his bike. Police said the man never displayed a weapon.
The man appears to have targeted the victim because at the time of the incident the boy was wearing ear buds attached to the iPod in his pocket. The man also apparently followed the boy for a time before robbing him. The boy told police that he first noticed the man on the bike on Fairview Avenue just after parting ways with a friend.
Police said the offender was described as a black male with a thin build and short black hair, about 20 years old, wearing a navy blue jacket and blue jeans. He was riding a navy blue mountain bike with white lettering on it.
On April 22, two boys who were skateboarding near the corner of Southview and Prairie avenues were robbed by three men in a car. One of the victims, a 16-year-old boy, had headphones on. One of the offenders pulled a gun on the boy wearing the headphones and demanded his iPhone.
In that incident, the offenders also asked for directions and asked the victims if they knew someone named "Kate," leading police to surmise that the two incidents are related.
The village of Broadview also reported a similar incident last week, Brookfield police said.
Meanwhile, three men accosted a group of youths in Brookfield on March 26, targeting the one who was wearing headphones. The teen was beaten and his iPhone taken from him. Three people have been charged with robbery in connection with that incident.
Anyone with information about either of the two latest incidents is asked to call the Brookfield police at 708-485-8131. To sign up for the village's eNews Alert list, visit the village's website at www.brookfieldil.gov and provide an email address on the home page.