Note to anyone who’s hot to get rid of that dried out old Christmas tree now that the season is over: Don’t light it on fire.

The Brookfield Fire Department responded to the vicinity of Prairie and Grant avenues on Jan. 3 at 10:55 p.m. after a receiving a call that a building was on fire on the 3700 block of Prairie Avenue.

When firefighters arrived on the scene, they located the fire – a large bonfire in the backyard of a home on the 8900 block of Grant Avenue, fueled in part by an old Christmas tree. Flames were high enough that the blaze could be seen from down the block and required the fire department to extinguish it.

“It sounded like we had a building fire on the 3700 block of Prairie Avenue,” said Fire Chief Patrick Lenzi. “[Christmas trees] are just like turpentine; they can go up very quickly.”

Police issued a 39-year-old man a local ordinance violation notice for “open burning.”

Man overboard

A 23-year-old Chicago man, apparently trying to elude Stickney police during the early morning hours of Jan. 7, lost control of his 2000 Mercury and crashed it into a guardrail at the northeast corner of the bridge over the Des Plaines River on Ogden Avenue in Riverside.

Police shut down traffic on Ogden Avenue while they attended to the driver, Thomas McGrath, who compounded his injuries by allegedly attempting to escape police by hopping over the side of the bridge toward the forest preserve area.

McGrath, however, fell some distance and police found him on the ground under the bridge, bleeding from his face. The extent of McGrath’s injuries was unclear. Riverside police also reported finding blood on the driver’s side airbag inside the car, which was crushed against the guardrail. McGrath was taken by paramedics to Loyola University Medical Center for treatment of his injuries.

According to Stickney Police Chief Joseph Kretch, McGrath was westbound on the 6500 block of Pershing Road when an officer observed that the headlights were out on McGrath’s car.

The officer made a U-turn to stop the car, but McGrath reportedly accelerated to a high rate of speed and then lost control of the car as it turned left from 39th Street onto westbound Ogden Avenue.

Stickney police issued several citations, including driving under the influence, driving on a suspended/revoked license, no proof of insurance, failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident, and driving without headlights.

Burglaries in North Riverside

A resident of the 2500 block of Westover Avenue, North Riverside, reported to police on Jan. 6 that between 10:30 a.m. and 3:15 p.m., several items were stolen from her home.

According to the police report, six televisions, three videogame systems, a laptop computer, a computer monitor and a digital camera were taken from various rooms in the home. One witness reported seeing two cars parked in the alley that day. Another reported hearing dogs at the Westover Avenue address, barking loudly from the backyard at about 2:30 p.m. The back door of the house may have been unlocked, according to the report.

On Jan. 7, North Riverside police responded to the 2400 block of 10th Avenue after a homeowner there called to report a burglary to his garage. Police believe the service door may have been pushed or kicked in. A box of tools along with two jack stands were reported missing from the garage.

A 31-year-old Chicago man reported to North Riverside police on Jan. 9 that his car was burglarized while it was parked in the lot at Olive Garden, 7513 Cermak Road. The man told police he parked his black 2008 Chrysler 300 in the lot at 8:30 p.m. When he returned at 10:15 p.m., the man saw that the car’s passenger side window was shattered and the JVC DVD/CD/mp3 stereo was ripped out of the dashboard.

Van stolen in Brookfield

A resident of the 2600 block of Maple Avenue, Brookfield, reported to police that between 5:30 and 9 p.m. on Jan. 9, someone stole a white 1997 Chevy van from in front of his house.

The man had left the keys to the van in a cupholder and the doors were unlocked, according to the report, so a co-worker could pick up the van at some point. The co-worker never borrowed the van, however.

About $8,000 worth of tools was inside the van at the time it was stolen, according to the report.

These items were obtained from police reports filed by the Riverside, North Riverside and Brookfield police departments from Jan. 3 to Jan. 9, 2011, 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.

– compiled by Bob Uphues