By Bob Uphues
A burglary crew operating in the west and southwest suburbs struck in Riverside on March 4, breaking into three unlocked vehicles in the 700 blocks of Arlington and Selborne roads and fleeing from police at high speeds.
Notified earlier that nighttime burglaries had been taking place in nearby LaGrange and LaGrange Park, a Riverside police officer on patrol in the 700 block of Arlington Road at 1:40 a.m. on March 4 spotted a silver SUV matching the description of a vehicle reported to be involved in incidents elsewhere.
The SUV fled immediately upon seeing police and raced southbound on Harlem Avenue toward I-55 at speeds in excess of 80 mph. Police terminated the chase out of safety concerns, but they were able to get a license plate number for the SUV, which came back as stolen out of South Holland.
LaGrange police reported finding a vehicle registration card for the SUV spotted in Riverside at the scene of a burglary in that village.
Riverside Police Chief Thomas Weitzel said the burglary crew has been hitting communities easily accessible by expressways and picking locations near main roads, like Harlem Avenue.
"The offenders typically come to the community in a stolen car, generally only commit burglaries on cars that are left unlocked, and sometimes steal other cars because residents will leave their key fobs in the vehicle," Weitzel said in a press release. "These offenders then flee at high rates of speed, sometimes over 100 miles per hour, because they are well aware that police will not chase most individuals for property crimes."
In the case of the Riverside burglaries early on March 4, the offenders stole a laptop computer, jewelry and cash. At 7 a.m. on the same morning of the burglaries, Riverside police were notified that the laptop taken from a car on Selborne Road had been found on a public parkway in Hinsdale.
Weitzel encouraged residents to lock their car doors if the vehicles are parked on the street or in driveways.
"These criminals are simply going car to car and trying door handles until they find cars that are unlocked," Weitzel said. "If you lock your cars overnight, you are less likely to be the victim of a car burglary."