Cook County Sheriff’s Police are investigating an armed vehicular hijacking that took place in the parking lot of the Zoo Woods Forest Preserve, on First Avenue between 31st Street and Forest Avenue in Riverside on March 9 at about 12:35 p.m.
According to Riverside police, who were the first to respond to the 911 call, the victim, a 31-year-old Justice man, said he had listed his full-size maroon Ford F250 Econoline van for sale on the website Craigslist. A man responded to the ad and met the victim at an unspecified location in McCook.
The victim described the offender as a white male with brown hair, about 5-foot-9 to 5-foot-10, weighing 205-210 pounds. He was wearing a gray Carhartt jacket, gardening gloves, a dark brown sweatshirt and light green Nike shoes. The man’s clothes were dirty, according to the victim, and he was carrying a dirty black backpack. He also reportedly walked with a limp.
According to the victim, the offender asked to drive the van to the bank to get money to pay for the van. The offender got behind the wheel and the victim sat in the passenger seat. As the two drove along First Avenue, the offender turned into the south entrance of the Zoo Woods, saying he wanted to check the van’s engine.
The offender popped the hood and both men got out of the van and walked to the front of the vehicle to look at the engine. They then closed the hood and reentered the van, at which time the offender allegedly pulled out a handgun and pointed it at the victim, who exited the van and ran into the woods. The van was last seen exiting the forest preserve.
According to police, the victim informed them that the license plates on the van did not belong to the vehicle. Rather, the plates were registered to a 2008 Ford Escape.