A former MacNeal Hospital employee who burglarized the homes of 18 senior citizens, including four from Riverside, while they were laid up in the hospital, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Erik Albavera, 31, of Berwyn, pleaded guilty in front of Judge Geary Kull at a hearing at Maybrook Courthouse on Nov. 15.

Riverside Police Chief Thomas Weitzel said Albavera identified his victims after befriending them in the emergency room and then visiting them in their hospital rooms, finding out if they lived alone, whether they had any family in the area.

If it looked like the patient was living alone he knew it would be unlikely for him to encounter anyone at the residence.

Weitzel said Albavera committed the burglaries over a period of months. Berwyn and Riverside police worked with MacNeal security to identify people coming to the emergency room who might fit the pattern.

Police set up surveillance on one such house in Berwyn, where police arrested Albavera in February. Albavera, who had no prior criminal record, has been in custody since his arrest.

Vehicle break-in

Police responded to the 100 block of East Quincy Street, Riverside, at 7:15 p.m. on Nov. 15 after a resident called to report that someone had stolen her purse and jacket from her unlocked rental vehicle, which had been parked on the street since 6:20 p.m.

The victim told police she had come home from work, parked her car and went into the house before realizing she left the items in the vehicle. When she went to retrieve them, they were gone.

Police later reported that a neighbor had found the purse and jacket down the block. All that appeared to be missing was $40 in cash, according to the police report.

Stolen vehicle recovered

A Riverside man whose pickup truck had been stolen on Nov. 7 was able to recover it on Nov. 14 after a friend called him when he saw it parked in a Lyons alley.

The victim called Riverside police, which met him in an alley in the 8100 block of Ogden Avenue, where the truck was left basically undamaged. It appeared the truck had been used as the victim observed “junk” in the rear bed that he didn’t recognize.

Package taken from porch

A resident of the 3000 block of Vernon Avenue, Brookfield, called police on Nov. 15 to report that a surveillance camera on his property recorded someone removing a FedEx package from his front porch that morning.

According to the police report, the package, which contained a pair of $200 gym shoes, was delivered at 10:36 a.m. At 10:45 a.m. an unknown man walked up to the house, removed the package and then left in a white sedan. 

70 mph and allegedly drugged

A 20-year-old Forest Park man was charged with driving under the influence and felony drug possession charges after police stopped him for reportedly speeding 70 mph in a 30 mph zone while northbound in the 3300 block of Harlem Avenue on Nov. 14 at about 4:25 a.m.

According to police, the driver, Ibrahim Hodzic, said he had ingested the prescription narcotic Xanax and cannabis prior to driving and that he believed he was in Canada at the time of his arrest.

Police said Hodzic, who “could barely stand,” was extremely disoriented and had been weaving in and out of traffic while going 40 mph over the posted speed limit. In addition to DUI, police charged Hodzic with felony possession of a controlled substance, aggravated speeding, improper lane usage and possession of cannabis.

A 20-year-old Melrose Park man who was a passenger in the vehicle was cited for possession of cannabis.

Armed and loaded

Riverside police charged a 30-year-old Stone Park man with reckless driving and driving under the influence of alcohol after his vehicle, which was clocked at 73 mph in a 30 mph zone, almost hit a Berwyn police squad car in the 3500 block of Harlem Avenue on Nov. 19 at 2:15 a.m.

 The vehicle reportedly blew at least one red light while northbound on Harlem Avenue, with the driver, Giovanni Reynoso, eventually stopping for a police officer in the 2200 block.

Police learned the driver had a concealed carry permit and reported recovering a .40-caliber handgun and 14 rounds of ammunition from the vehicle’s center console.

“The handgun was fully loaded — and so was Mr. Reynoso,” said Police Chief Thomas Weitzel.

In addition to DUI and reckless driving, police cited Reynoso for a host of traffic violations and charged him with violating the Concealed Carry Act for being under the influence of alcohol while in possession of a loaded handgun, a Class A misdemeanor. 

These items were obtained from police reports filed by the Riverside, North Riverside and Brookfield police departments, Nov. 13-19, 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