Riverside police arrested a Chicago man in connection with a burglary that occurred in the building at 5 E. Burlington St. in Riverside on Sept. 8 at 11 a.m. 

Riverside police uncovered security footage from a nearby business of Jason Smith, 42, of Chicago, entering the apartment and grabbing the food and drink while the tenant was out smoking a cigarette. The victim told police she was outside smoking for 15 minutes, returned to her apartment and saw Smith removing a Gatorade from the fridge. He left when the woman started screaming and walked toward East Burlington Street. 

Police captured video stills from the businesses’ camera footage and distributed them to nearby police departments. 

An Elmhurst civilian public safety analyst employee recognized Smith from the images distributed, remembering that he had previously interacted with an Elmhurst officer for panhandling on local roads. She was able to identify him as the burglar. The victim was then able to identify the suspect from a photo lineup provided by Riverside officers.

Police received a tip that Smith is homeless and often panhandles in Oak Park. Riverside police apprehended him panhandling at the intersection of Marion and North Boulevard on Sept. 13, dressed in the same clothes as the time of the Sept. 8 burglary. 

Officers transported him to the Riverside Police Department, where he confessed to entering the apartment and taking food and drink from the refrigerator. He received a felony charge for residential burglary. 

“Once again, video surveillance from private businesses played a key role in solving this crime,” Riverside Police Chief Thomas Weitzel said in a statement. 

Man arrested for hit-and-run, abandoning puppy 

Police arrested Omar Merez in connection with a hit-and-run that occurred about 7:53 p.m. on Sept. 8 at the intersection of Southview and Prairie avenues. 

Officers watched Merez drive his Cadillac through the intersection, skipping a stop sign, and striking a Saturn Ion on the rear driver’s side. Police told Merez to stay in the car while they checked on the victim, whose car was now in the middle of the road and who was sitting with her head in her hands. She told police she was fine and just upset that her new car was damaged. 

Officers returned to the Cadillac, where they found the driver’s side door open and Merez gone. Inside the car, was a 4-week-old puppy, two pipes commonly used to smoke cannabis and a debit card belonging to a Stickney woman. A search in the police database found the Cadillac was also registered to a Stickney woman. Stickney police told the Brookfield officers that they have had multiple contacts with the couple, and that Merez was the Cadillac owner’s boyfriend.     

Brookfield officers later found Merez on Sept. 11 and charged him with leaving the scene, driving with a suspended driver’s license, failure to yield and obstructing. He had an active warrant out for a felony theft in DuPage County.

Charged with DUI

A Cicero man was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, after blowing more than 2.5 times the legal limit at 1:42 a.m. on Sept. 16. 

Officers spotted Allan Pineda, 27, weaving across Longcommon Road, just south of the Burlington Northern railroad crossing, straying into incoming traffic and bouncing off curbs. Police stopped the vehicle at the intersection of Gage and Riverside Roads. 

Pineda told police he was coming from a wedding, where he said he had taken multiple shots. He told police he was a “little bit drunk” but more sober than the 20-year-old passenger, which was why he was driving. He stumbled out of his car, and failed officer’s field sobriety tests. In a portable breathalyzer test, Pineda blew 0.22, more than double the legal limit of 0.08. The passenger, 20, of Addison, blew 0.13 in a portable breath test, and was found to have cannabis on her person. 

Police arrested Pineda for two counts driving under the influence of alcohol. The passenger was charged with possession of cannabis and underage drinking.

Trailer stolen from trucking company 

Sometime between 3 p.m. on Sept. 14 and about 7 a.m. on Sept. 15, two men broke into a Hammer Express trucking company, 9014 47th St. in Brookfield, opening 10 containers and stealing a trailer full of scrap metal, according to footage from the business’ security camera. Footage shows the two men walking onto the property about 2:20 a.m. on Sept. 14, cutting the container seals with bolt cutters and peering inside. The duo jumped over a fence, leaving Hammer Express, and then returned about an hour later with a semi-truck. The men attached the stolen trailer to the truck and fled the scene at 3:14 a.m. on Sept. 15, driving east on 47th St.

These items were obtained from police reports filed by the Riverside, North Riverside and Brookfield police departments, Sept. 10-16, 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 Nona Tepper

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