Police stop credit card theft ring, warn of other thefts

Police from the 16th District have broken up a credit card theft ring.

Their investigation began in early January when a man flagged down Officer Mike Keefe's patrol car to complain about people stealing letters from residential mailboxes, Keefe said at a recent Beat 1622 community policing meeting.

Based on a description given by the man, Keefe said, officers stopped a car belonging to a suspect.

No mail was found, but after questioning by officers and a federal postal inspector, police learned that a clerk at a local auto parts store had been pocketing customers' credit cards. She would then contact the issuing bank and request a new card in her name, which would then be stolen from the customer's mailbox.

Elsewhere in the district, police are concerned about two burglaries in which offenders claimed to be landscapers in order to gain access to the homes of elderly couples. While one offender distracted the occupants, the other stole items from the home, according to CAPS Officer Jeff McKamey.

McKamey also described a robbery at Yolanda's Deli on Higgins in which offenders made off with $800 and a holdup at MB Bank in which two women wearing caps and jackets took an undisclosed amount of money.

The area is experiencing a rash of thefts from autos, including portable GPS navigation systems, I-Pod music players, IPass tollway transponders, and car backup systems. Thieves have also been cutting catalytic converters off of cars. Police advised residents to call 911 if they see someone suspicious working under a car.

Burglaries went up during the holiday season due to vacation travel, according to CAPS community organizer John Eischen. He advises traveling residents to have a neighbor pickup their mail and dump trash in their garbage cans during their absense so burglars won't realize the house is unoccupied. Police also advised residents that burglars look through trash for empty boxes from newly-purchased valuables such as flat-screen televisions.

In response to complaints at a prior meeting, a police tactical team has been dispersing crowds at the corner of Milwaukee and Austin on weekend nights.

A resident complained about teenagers drinking and littering in Rosedale Park at night. He said he'd called police several times, but the offenders left each time before police arrived. Police at the meeting speculated the offenders may have a police scanner and advised residents to inform the 911 dispatcher of this possibility. Police also told residents to call whenever the offenders are present, even if they're not doing anything wrong.

A resident who had previously complained about two females engaging in "inappropriate behavior" in the back seat of a car near Prussing Elementary School said they had stopped for a while but had now returned in a different car.

Beat 1622 is bounded by Montrose, Peterson, Nagle, and Central.