Oak Park mayor speaks out on carjackings

Anan Abu-Taleb urges residents to connect with resident beat police officers

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

In response to a story concerning two attempted carjackings that took place Tuesday evening in northeast Oak Park, Mayor Anan Abu-Taleb says he understands residents' concerns and police are working to catch the perpetrators.

Abu-Taleb said in a telephone interview that the story about a woman in the 700 block of North Lombard Avenue, who was the target of an attempted armed carjacking, was "heartbreaking."

The woman, who spoke to Wednesday Journal under the condition of anonymity, had returned home, when a man put a gun to her head and demanded the keys to her car. She pleaded with the man, who was with an accomplice, to let her get her 3-year-old daughter out of the car before they stole it. The two suspects then fled on foot.

The attempted carjacking on Lombard took place at 6:20 p.m., about 30 minutes after another attempted carjacking in the 1200 block of North Austin Boulevard.

"I am so sorry for what this woman and her child had to go through," Abu-Taleb said. "I can't imagine telling someone, 'Don't drive away with my child.'"

Abu-Taleb said he wants Oak Parkers to know that the village puts public safety first and the Oak Park Police Department is working to capture the two would-be carjackers.

"I hear the fear; I hear this woman feeling unsafe," he said. "I have been in situations where it's been unsafe, and that's why public safety is a major thing for me."

The Oak Park Police Department has not responded to requests for additional information about the crime.

"I can assure you that the chief of police and the police department are on it," Abu-Taleb said, adding, "They don't want to jeopardize the investigation. Sometimes we're slow to make statements about such matters, but it's only for that reason."

The victim of the carjacking attempt on North Lombard said in a telephone interview that she believes the lack of street lighting near her home might have made her a target and plans to petition the village to install one.

Asked about his thoughts on installing such lights, Abu-Taleb said, "If providing lights there would provide better safety, you better believe I'm for it, and I'm pretty certain that everyone on my board would advocate for such a tool, if it provides for better safety."

He encouraged residents to develop a relationship with Oak Park's resident beat officers and report anything they see out of the ordinary.

"We have our village divided into eight sections in terms of beat officers, and I want people to reach out to those beat officers if they have any information," he said.

More information about the resident beat officer program is available online at http://www.oak-park.us/village-services/police-department/get-know-your-rbo.

The beat officer program is run by Sergeant Dave Jacobson, who is available at 708-358-5519 and djacobson@oak-park.us.

The resident beat officer zones include:

  • Zone 1, bounded by Ridgeland Avenue, Chicago Avenue, North Avenue and Austin Boulevard, is headed by Officer Anthony Coleman (708-606-1938 and coleman@oak-park.us).
  • Zone 2, bounded by Harlem Avenue, North Avenue, Chicago Avenue and Ridgeland Avenue, is headed by Officer Shatonya Johnson (708-613-1794 and sjohnson@oak-park.us).
  • Zone 3, bounded by Harlem Avenue, Chicago Avenue, Austin Boulevard and North Boulevard, is headed by Officer Raphael Murphy (708-305-9779 and rmurphy@oak-park.us).
  • Zone 4, bounded by Oak Park Avenue, South Boulevard, Madison Street and Austin Boulevard, is headed by Officer Robert Primak (708-305-9780 and primak@oak-park.us).
  • Zone 5, bounded by Harlem Avenue, South Boulevard, Oak Park Avenue and the Eisenhower Expressway, is headed by Officer Robert Monty (708-613-1206 and rmonty@oak-park.us).
  • Zone 6, bounded by Oak Park Avenue, Madison Street, Austin Boulevard and the Eisenhower Expressway, is headed by Officer Traccye Love (708-613-1795).
  • Zone 7, bounded by the Eisenhower Expressway, East Avenue, Roosevelt Road and Austin Boulevard, is headed by Officer Derrick Verge (708-613-1554 and dverge@oak-park.us).
  • Zone 8, bounded by Harlem Avenue, the Eisenhower Expressway, East Avenue and Roosevelt Road, is headed by Officer John Rumoro (708-305-9782 and rumoro@oak-park.us).

CONTACT: tim@oakpark.com

Reader Comments

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Cassandra Hutchinson  

Posted: December 7th, 2017 6:17 AM

The point that I am presenting is that there are can also be different and valid perspectives that exist in the mist of any situation that arises. Michael - The Austin community has pockets of crime and pockets of stability. My parents bought a home there in 1969. My mom still lives in the home and very stable pocket of Austin. It is not an anomaly. Crime exists no matter where you live and the solution is as complex as the reasons that crime exists. So let's get busy with real and meaningful engagement since we live near Austin. It is not a throw away community. Alice - People can have very valid reasons for being in the residential parts of Oak Park even when they are not residents. I report supiscious behavior every time I see it, which thankfully has only been a handful of times in 22 years. Tommy - I understand and agree that past experience can be helpful in assessing activity that may be transpiring at any given point in time, let's just try to get it right and understand that each situation still has to stand on it's own merits.

Michael O'Malley  

Posted: December 5th, 2017 10:12 PM

Oak Park lies next to one of the most impoverished and violent communities in the United States. We can't ignore that. Ms. Hutchins believes we should do as Austin does and increase the street lighting to the point where sleeping without blackout shades would be blinding. In one sentence she says that assumptions are the problem and in the next that we should brace ourselves like the "Austin Community" does. That's simply nonsense. What's next ...? razor wire along our fences? This has everything to do with an increase in violent crime in our village, not racism. Let's deal with the immediate issue and not be distracted by some people making social injustice the debate.

Alice Wellington  

Posted: December 5th, 2017 7:03 PM

Cassandra Hutchinson - that depends on where these people are and what they are doing. If someone comes here to shop or eat, they would tend to be in the commercial areas where these establishments are. If someone is hanging out in the residential area, cruising and /or obviously casing the neighborhood, then they should not be surprised when people ask questions. The cops are actually quite good at knowing the difference, if they are allowed to do their jobs.

Tommy McCoy  

Posted: December 5th, 2017 6:17 PM

Cassandra Hutchinson, lets create a scenario and you can decide if the Police, are acting inappropriately based on appearance. You have a tactical car parked two blocks away from a group of individuals standing on a corner. The two Officers notice a car with two people slowing down and coming to a stop at the corner were the group of people on the corner are standing. One of the group reaches inside the passenger side of the vehicle and quickly walks away. The vehicle then drives away. If you were one of those Officer's observing what just took place, what would your thoughts be of what just took place and what would you do as being a Police Officer

Cassandra Hutchinson  

Posted: December 5th, 2017 5:25 PM

@alice wellington ?" sadly for some, there is no difference. If only you could ask the number of blacks that have lost their lives across this nation through excessive force. Make no mistake, I am fully aware that there are criminals walking around ready to take prey on strangers, but, there are also times when one is thought to be guilty and treated as such, simply for outward, physical reasons. That is not how law enforcement is supposed to work. @james hall ?" what I am saying is that the assumption is that if you are black and are in Oak Park near the border of Austin, you must be from Austin and more than likely up to no good. It is the 'assumption' that causes the problem. And no, more police is not always the answer either. How about better lighting up and down the neighborhoods. In the Austin community, there are light fixtures that have two lamp fixtures per pole. One is up high and another is lower, closer to the height of a door on a house. You can see lots of area surrounding the house the minute you open your door or pull up to your house.

Alice Wellington  

Posted: December 5th, 2017 2:35 PM

Cassandra Hutchinson - would you rather be stopped, or dead? And how do you think 636 people murdered in Chicago so far this year would answer this question?

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: December 5th, 2017 10:30 AM

Is there a chance that outside of omnipresence, that the police are powerless to prevent an offense from happening? I have said before, crime is the unspoken of tax Oak Parkers are forced to pay.

James Hall  

Posted: December 5th, 2017 8:59 AM

So Cassandra's "proactive" idea is hire a lot more police, but they aren't allowed to do anything or stop anyone because it might be traumatic for the criminal?

Cassandra Hutchinson  

Posted: December 4th, 2017 5:18 PM

@Robert Reeves, @Brian Borg, and @Tommy McCoy ?" Thank you for thinking before you interjected an opinion by providing thoughtful and encouraging ideas. @Nick Polido ?" Have you not been paying attention to the news? This type of crime is happening throughout the Chicagoland area. Criminals travel. Period. @James Hall ?" CCL is a reactive idea. We need proactive ideas that make our area undesirable to any person with criminal intent from the outset. Comprehensive policing would be a great start. @James Peters ?" There is a very good reason for the prohibition of "profiling". I am African-American, have lived in OP for 22 years, wear hoodies to stay warm in the late fall, and I assure you that I do not have any criminal intent towards anyone that I encounter on the streets of OP or anywhere else for that matter. Have you ever been profiled and stopped by the police? Not a good feeling for the average law-abiding citizen. It can send your heart racing. Nor would I want that happening to the young people in the community who are not guilty of anything save for wearing a hoodie or the amount of melanin in their skin. Criminals are not always African American nor are they always from the Austin community. Pardon me for being a tad sensitive to these types of responses, but if it has never happened to you or is not likely to happen to you, then you have no point of reference for the toll that can take. If you cannot or will not put yourself in the shoes of an African American person, please stop with the rhetoric.

James Hall  

Posted: December 1st, 2017 2:27 PM

Tommy, I agree. Situational awareness would give a person time to get away or defend themselves before the thug is pointing his gun at your head. Sometimes we need to take responsibility for our own safety. Especially when we live next to a gang/drug infested area. The OPPD does an excellent job, but they can't be everywhere at once.

Ray Simpson  

Posted: December 1st, 2017 1:29 PM

@ Tommy - the real value of Concealed Carry is the doubt it creates in the thugs mind. It is easy to pick on someone if you are sure he/she will not fight back. If a community allows CCL bad guys will look for more fertile hunting grounds. The attacker at US Bank on Madison didn't consider that his victim would be licensed and fight back. The lesson came to late for him but, his buddy's will most likely think twice about doing their grand plan.

Tommy McCoy  

Posted: December 1st, 2017 12:13 PM

James Hall, if a person already is pointing a gun at you, how much faster do you think you are going to be at pulling your gun from your holster in a situation like that. You would have to assume the person holding the gun on you will not shoot if you do pull your gun out and then start having bullets flying everywhere. The woman and child is safe and that is what is most important. Now moving forward the Police can offer classes on how to be aware of your surroundings.

James Hall  

Posted: December 1st, 2017 11:01 AM

Get a CCL and train. 5 minutes is a long time to beg for your life.

Alex Garcia  

Posted: December 1st, 2017 10:53 AM

The mayor, other village officials, and many comments here, seem to solely focused on response times and catching the perpetrators AFTER the fact. Aside from maybe adding some more street lights, virtually no discussion of stopping violent crime BEFORE it happens. I would mention some things, such as stop and frisk, that are deemed by many in OP to be improper or illegal. Fine. No stop and frisk. However, what else would you like to do aside from the aforementioned lighting and maybe another useless community forum?

Nick Polido  

Posted: December 1st, 2017 9:19 AM

This is a problem unique to Oak Park, we live next door to Austin, a neighborhood tragically riddled with crime and poverty. The youths who simply have given up with no hope or value of human life. Maybe we could get Danny Davis, Dan Harmon, Luis Gutierrez and all our local leaders to stage another useless forum...or better yet let someone else serve...

Leonard Grossman  

Posted: December 1st, 2017 9:03 AM

Mayor?

Brian Borg from Oak Park  

Posted: December 1st, 2017 6:45 AM

I think something very simple every Oak Parker can do is during these early sunset/ late sunrise months is simply turn on your porch light, as well as your garage light facing the alley. During early and late dog walks I'm often surprised how dark some houses and whole streets are even with streetlights. Our trees create many dark spots. With an efficient LED bulb in existing fixtures this seems to me to be a cost-effective way to make it easier for everyone to watch out for each other as well as help our police watch for us. A publicized lights-on campaign could also discourage would-be criminals because they know Oak Park is aware and watching.

Robert Reeves  

Posted: December 1st, 2017 3:46 AM

This is not a problem that is unique to Oak Park. This is a problem that is plaguing all communities within close proximity to Chicago. Most police patrols are vigilant and visible, but these crimes are difficult to stop. Why? Because they happen quickly, can take place anywhere a vehicle is, and often the behavior prior to the crime being committed is someone walking on a street where they are allowed to be. I'm sure the Oak Park Police, along with many other towns are stepping up visibility, vigilance, and creating community awareness, but it is that awareness that is the true best defense.

Tommy McCoy  

Posted: November 30th, 2017 8:10 PM

James Peters , people who live on the West side of Chicago, don't want criminals anymore than people in Oak Park want criminals. It is an unfortunate situation because there are less criminals in a community when there is more money in the community. As for profiling, it is human nature to profile people regardless of race or how they are dressed. When it comes to profiling, don't think Police lack the ability to identify potential criminals. Oak Park has excellent Police Officers and FireFighter personnel who treat each individual in a professional manner. If you notice why most of the Police drive with their windows down it is to hear for potential need for help. Some day, Police may have amplified systems attached to their vehicles to increase audio levels

James Peters from Oak Park  

Posted: November 30th, 2017 7:25 PM

Certainly, the prohibition of "profiling" hinders preventive law enforcement. As does any assumption that Oak Park's crime isn't related to the gangs on Chicago's West Side. I don't have an answer, but those are two elements of the problem.

John Lattyak  

Posted: November 30th, 2017 7:11 PM

These episodes are becoming more frequent. We need more police visibility. The Village board should think about increasing the police budget to put more officers on patrol. If there is more police visibility the bad guys will move on. Better street lighting would help along with property owners adding security lighting around there homes. Also, if you see suspicious activity, be pro active and call the police. As to funding the the increase in the police budget, a start would be to get rid of the Divvy bike program that benefits a few at the expense of Oak Park tax payers. I rarely see anyone riding a Divvy bike and see most of them locked up at the various stations around the village.The Village board should put more emphasis on the safety of Oak Park citizens in preparing future budgets. The safety of the people of Oak Park is paramount in managing the Village.

Paul Cagnina  

Posted: November 30th, 2017 6:58 PM

The criminals that prey on Oak Park think the residents are weak, ignorant, naive, unaware, which makes them a target. If Oak Park puts up a light, the criminals will just go where there isn't a light. If Oak Park puts more Police in one area, the criminals will just go to another area. AN ATTITUDE CHANGE IN THE RESIDENTS OF OAK PARK WILL CREATE A BEHAVIOR CHANGE IN THE CRIMINALS. Good luck with finding investors for the North Ave project.

Tommy McCoy  

Posted: November 30th, 2017 6:12 PM

I suppose I was a little ahead of the curve when I suggested to the Wednesday Journal over a month ago to do a story about how to help prevent car jacking and get that information from the Police. This story doesn't do much in regards other then saying who is in charge of each zone. It doesn't say why it took almost 5 minutes to respond, how many Police Officer's are assigned to a zone and it doesn't say anything about how people can increase their own safety with some simple rules. A story that could be very helpful for all drivers would be a very good thing for the Wednesday Journal, to do. Placing the light in the woman's area won't help when you consider that she was able to clearly recognize the younger individual on her side walk wearing a mask with a strange design. She also has an incredible memory to recall a complete phrase that the taller perpetrator said. There was enough ambient light for her to make certain identifying pieces to help identify the perpetrator's. This is an on going problem which will continue to grow because it is a trend that younger people are doing. It is not about stealing and selling the car. It is just about taking a ride and putting civilians at risk for their own adventures. This was a terrible event for the woman to have to go through.

Jennifer Loss-Hamilton  

Posted: November 30th, 2017 5:55 PM

The Mayor talked without saying a thing. What is the Village going to do other than maybe install a light (only 'IF It provides better safety.')? Can we get increased police patrols in zone 1?

Paul Cagnina  

Posted: November 30th, 2017 5:50 PM

In the event the suspects were truly arrested shortly after. I'm not aware the wednesday Journal is aware of the arrest either.

Jennifer Malloy Quinlan  

Posted: November 30th, 2017 5:29 PM

I was under the impression that the suspects were arrested in Chicago shortly after the carjacking attempts. How in the world could Mr. Abu-Taleb not know this?

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