By Bob Uphues
North Riverside police arrested seven juveniles and charged them with offenses ranging from trespassing to criminal damage to property to battery to a police officer, after responding to a report of a flash mob at North Riverside Park Mall, 7501 Cermak Road, on July 27 about 6 p.m.
According to police, dozens of juveniles arrived at the mall in response to a "trend" post that had been shared earlier last week on social media. Mall general manager Harvey Ahitow said security staff caught wind of the social media post on July 24 and notified police.
In response, the mall beefed up the number of security guards on July 27 and also began instituting its youth escort policy, prohibiting anyone 17 or younger into the mall without an adult guardian, at 3 p.m.
However, groups of unescorted youths were scattered throughout the parking areas outside the mall and some made their way into the mall through unguarded entrances, including at least one person entering the food court through the kitchen of EM Buffet.
Two 14-year-old Chicago boys who had been removed from the mall reportedly regained entry and were arrested and charged with trespassing. One of them reportedly made a statement claiming credit for the social media post, but police are still investigating that claim.
"It's difficult to tell," said North Riverside Police Commander David Kopka. "Detectives are going to have to look into that."
Another 14-year-old reportedly was charged with trespassing, resisting arrest and battery to a police officer after initially refusing to leave the mall property. He was eventually arrested in the parking lot of Chick-fil-A, 7201 Cermak Road.
Three others were charged with criminal damage to property for damaging parked cars in the mall's parking lot as police tried to clear the juveniles from the property. A 15-year-old boy was arrested in the east parking lot for disorderly conduct and criminal trespassing after he reportedly jumped up and down on a car.
Another 15-year-old suspected of jumping up and down on a car in the parking lot near Panda Express, 2300 Harlem Ave., was arrested in the 7100 block of Cermak Road in Berwyn and charged with criminal damage to property, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.
A third 15-year-old boy was taken into custody near Olive Garden, 7513 Cermak Road, and charged with criminal damage to property and resisting arrest for allegedly ramming a shopping cart into a vehicle parked in the east lot of the mall. A 16-year-old who allegedly tried to interfere with that arrest was charged with obstruction.
All of those arrested were petitioned to Cook County Juvenile Justice authorities. Ahitow said the mall plans to prosecute all of the cases "to the fullest extent."
Flash mobs and threats of flash mobs have been a thorn in the side of mall officials in recent years, with a couple of large incidents in December 2018 and March 2019. The mall closed early in those instances, but it remained open on July 27.
A resident of Custer Avenue in Brookfield contacted police on July 27 to report that sometime after 4 p.m. on July 19 someone had entered his work vehicle, which was parked on the street, and removed two bags containing cordless drills and other equipment.
Police reported no signs of forced entry to the vehicle, which likely had been left unlocked. The value of the missing items was estimated at $1,500.
The owner of a home in the 2200 block of Northgate Avenue, North Riverside, contacted police on July 23 to report that someone had stolen a central air-conditioning unit from the rear of the property.
A neighbor reportedly told police that, two and a half weeks prior, he heard noise coming from the rear of the vacant home and the next morning observed the metal housing to the air-conditioning unit out next to the garage, where it was picked up by a scrapper. He assumed the unit was being replaced, according to police.
A man rehabbing a house in the 3400 block of Arden Avenue, Brookfield, called police on July 24 to report that sometime after July 16 someone had removed about 10 feet of copper gutter from the north side of the home.
The section of gutter was valued at $500.
A Brookfield woman went to police on July 24 after receiving a phone call from a man claiming to be a police officer on a task force fighting drugs and terrorism and asking for her bank account information.
She reportedly provided the information to the man, who hung up when she told him she had $2.40 in the account.
These items were obtained from police reports filed by the Riverside, North Riverside and Brookfield police departments, July 22-28, 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