Dany Y. Ortiz

Riverside police have charged a 21-year-old Cicero man with a passion for pizza with burglary to a motor vehicle, ending for now his quest to sample slices for area pizza parlors using other people’s money.

On July 11, Riverside police took Dany Y. Ortiz, whom they dubbed “Pizza Man,” into custody as he sat on the front porch of his home in the 5200 block of West 22nd Place in Cicero.

Police were led to that address by a Riverside resident who called to report the license plate number of a vehicle involved in a vehicle break-in on July 2 at about 7:15 a.m. in the 400 block of Loudon Road.

The offender, described as a male between the ages of 18 and 21, was wearing pajama pants and slippers. After rummaging around in a vehicle parked in a driveway, the subject got into a tan Mazda and left the area. Police also obtained video surveillance camera footage of the suspect.

For several weeks preceding that incident, Riverside had experienced several incidents where someone entered unlocked cars and took loose change or cash, leaving behind expensive items like laptop computers and iPads.

After he was arrested, Ortiz reportedly told police that in May he began researching pizza places in the western suburbs, including Berwyn, Cicero, River Forest, Oak Park and North Riverside.

“He stated he was a lover of pizza and wanted to try all different kinds,” Riverside police reported in a press release. But, Ortiz had no money, so he began scouring suburban neighborhoods to find it, police said.

Ortiz reportedly began burglarizing vehicles in June. After collecting enough money from the break-ins, Ortiz would go buy pizza from parlors he’d identified as places to try. According to Riverside police, his favorite spot was Slice Factory in Oak Park.

Police Chief Thomas Weitzel, who called the case “one of the most unusual and bizarre burglary patterns I have ever come across in my 31 years in law enforcement,” said Ortiz would burglarize vehicles between the hours of 5 and 7 a.m., going driveway to driveway and specifically targeting unlocked vehicles.

Weitzel said Ortiz related he only took loose change or cash from vehicles.

“He thought he was being nice by passing up expensive equipment,” Weitzel said.

Although Ortiz was charged with just one count of burglary to a vehicle, Weitzel estimated that Ortiz was involved in at least eight other incidents in Riverside.

“We had other calls where victims didn’t want a report taken, but said they were missing small amounts of money, so I’m sure he’s responsible for more than [eight],” Weitzel said.

Riverside police notified detectives in other suburbs where Ortiz said he’d been active. River Forest police reportedly are interviewing him about incidents there.

Weitzel emphasized the importance of locking vehicles parked outside at night in Riverside. Ortiz, he said, was only interested in unlocked vehicles; he bypassed any vehicle that was locked.