Just a day after a 23-year-old Chicago man seemingly slipped through their fingers, driving away in a car with stolen license plates, Brookfield police arrested him and have now charged him with burglarizing a home, assaulting a police officer and several other offenses.
On Sept. 26 about 6 p.m., Brookfield police, along with officers from the Major Case Assistance Team and the West Suburban Directed Gang Enforcement (WEDGE) task force, arrested Joshua Velez at his home in the 2100 block of North Laramie Avenue.
Velez reportedly was wearing a Riverside-Brookfield High School 2016 class ring with the student’s name engraved on the inner band at the time of his arrest.
Police also recovered the truck the man allegedly drove as he fled from police in Brookfield after reportedly burglarizing a home in the 9500 block of Garfield Avenue on Sept. 25. The truck was found about a block away, said Brookfield Police Lt. Edward Petrak, and fitted with stolen New Jersey license plates.
At a hearing, Monday, at the Maybrook courthouse, a Cook County judge set Velez’s bond at $70,000. But it’s unclear whether he will simply be able to post bond and gain his release while awaiting trial. That’s because at the time of his arrest last week, Velez was on parole for a prior residential burglary conviction.
He was paroled from the Danville Correctional Center on Feb. 3 after serving part of a four-year sentence. In April 2012, while on out on bond for burglary charges, Velez was arrested for burglarizing a LaGrange home.
On Sept. 25, Brookfield police received a call at 12:01 p.m. from a man who reported that his neighbor’s house in the 9500 block of Garfield Avenue was being burglarized and that the offender might still be inside. Later the man told police he had noticed his neighbor’s dog on the rear deck, barking at the rear sliding glass door. A short time later, an unknown man came out of the back door carrying a flat-panel TV, which he placed in a pickup truck parked in the driveway.
Three officers from Brookfield and LaGrange Park arrived just as the suspect was exiting the back door. Police struggled with the suspect, who was able to break free from the officers, injuring the hand of a LaGrange Park officer in the process. He got into a dark-colored pickup truck and sped away south on Cleveland Avenue.
Police followed as he raced east, the wrong way, down Lincoln Avenue and past S.E. Gross Middle School, before heading north on Park Avenue to 31st Street and then east to First Avenue, where he sped south, losing contact with police.
The license plate number on the truck was registered to a vehicle that had been stolen in Cicero on Wednesday, according to police.
Police said several rooms of the home were ransacked and officers recovered some small electronics items taken from the house in the backyard. Police cordoned off the southwest corner of Cleveland and Garfield as evidence technicians from the Cook County Sheriff’s Police processed the scene.
Police developed information on a suspect with the assistance of a private evidence-processing company that had made a sales pitch to Brookfield police about two weeks ago. While the Illinois State Police crime lab also is able to process such evidence, it often takes months to do so because of a backlog of cases.
Cook County Sheriff’s Police were able to lift several good fingerprints from the crime scene, said Petrak. Brookfield police gave the evidence to the company, which produced a suspect within eight hours, Petrak said. While police had quick success using the private firm, Petrak said it is an expensive proposition.
Using the private service costs $500 to $1,000. If the case goes to trial, a company representative will likely have to testify, which will boost the cost even more.
Still, it could have taken more than six months to get fingerprint results back from the Illinois State Police crime lab.
“It just shows you how much of a backlog there is,” said Petrak. “He could’ve been out their robbing houses for eight months without getting caught.”
In addition to residential burglary, Velez was charged with aggravated battery to a police officer, reckless driving, fleeing and eluding police, and nine traffic offenses.