The Riverside Fire Department has called in the Illinois State Fire Marshal and MABAS Division 10 fire investigators to assist in determining the cause of a fire early on March 19 that gutted a single-family home at 170 W. Burlington St. and destroyed the property’s detached rear garage.

Riverside Director of Public Safety Matthew Buckley declined to say whether investigators believed the cause of the fire was suspicious, saying only that it remains under investigation and that evidence collected from the scene was being processed. He declined to say whether or not investigators observed evidence of accelerants at the scene.

The village is also working with the property owner’s insurance company to get the home and garage stabilized to make the property safe. Police tape remained around the property as of March 21.

Buckley said a neighbor initially called 911 at about 3:35 a.m. to report the smell of smoke in the area. When he arrived at the scene, Buckley said he observed there to be a fire in the basement of the single-story brick ranch house as well as in the detached garage.

The homeowner was not present, Buckley said.

The building was purchased in 2020 by a corporation called Rekrab LLC, whose manager is listed as Anthony Barker, who listed the LLC’s address at the West Burlington Street residence. The LLC was involuntarily dissolved last October, according to the Illinois Secretary of State’s website.

“We’re still speaking with him to determine more facts,” said Buckley.

Firefighters from McCook, Brookfield, North Riverside, Lyons, Forest View and LaGrange Park assisted in fighting the blaze, which was kept contained to the property. Structures to the east and west of the fire did sustain some minor damage in the form of cracked windows and scorched paint due to heat, Buckley said.

Unlawful use of a weapon

A 44-year-old Chicago man faces a felony weapons charge after he was found to be in possession of a loaded handgun without a firearm owner’s ID card or concealed carry license during a traffic stop in the 7200 block of Cermak Road in North Riverside on March 19 at about 6:55 p.m.

A police officer stopped the silver BMW sedan after a computer check of the license plate indicated they should have been displayed on a 2004 Chevy. After being asked if there were any firearms in the vehicle, the driver reportedly told police there was a loaded handgun in the glove box. He also stated the vehicle and the gun belonged to his girlfriend who was not in the vehicle.

Police took the driver into custody and then detained his passenger, a 44-year-old Chicago man, after he was found to have a set of brass knuckles on his person. The driver told police his passenger had no knowledge of the gun and that he had put license plates from an old vehicle on the BMW because he could not afford to register the newer car.

The Cook County State’s Attorney charged the driver with aggravated unlawful use of a weapon. Police charged the passenger with misdemeanor unlawful use of weapon for possessing the brass knuckles. 

Catalytic converter theft

A resident of the 8800 block of Brookfield Avenue, Brookfield, called police last week to report that the catalytic converter had been removed from her 2009 Toyota Prius overnight on March 11-12. The vehicle was parked behind the property, adjacent to the alley.

Tools stolen from truck

A man called North Riverside police to report that during the overnight hours on March 13-14 someone had stolen tools and keys from his truck, which was left unlocked. Police informed the man that they had taken someone into custody who might be a suspect, but the victim told police he just wanted his tools back and did not wish to file a criminal complaint.

These items were obtained from police reports filed by the Riverside, North Riverside and Brookfield police departments, March 14-20, 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