Oak Lawn trustee: "No significant rise in crime'

  • Written by Dermot Connolly

In response to two armed robberies that occurred in his district last month, Oak Lawn Trustee Terry Vorderer (4th) will be holding a community meeting to discuss public safety issues at 7 p.m. Oct. 13 at Salem United Church of Christ, 9717 S. Kostner Ave.

Vorderer said representatives of the Oak Lawn Police Department and the business community will be there to answer questions.

The incidents of most concern locally are two armed robberies, which police believe were committed by the same man, that occurred during the afternoon on Sept. 13. In both cases, the man robbed people at gunpoint in garages in the 4100 block of West 93rd Street and the 9600 block of South Kildare Avenue. Both locations are in Vorderer’s district.

When the trustee announced that he would be having the session at the Sept. 27 Village Board meeting, he cautioned residents that there is no reason to think that “crime is rampant” in the village.

A retired Oak Lawn police officer and chief of patrol, Vorderer claimed that Trustee Bob Streit (3rd) “takes liberties with the statistics,” on his online blog, in an effort to scare residents about crime levels.

In an overhead display of local crime statistics between 2010 and 2015 that he showed during the meeting, Vorderer pointed out that “there is no significant rise in crime over the last few years.”

He said that 2016 statistics are not available, and there was a spike in several areas in 2014. But crime has actually dropped this year in most areas, including burglaries, which are down from 121 to 110 this year, and robberies, down from 34 to 21.

“Variances can occur every year. One offender can cause a lot of trouble. But nothing indicates there is a large increase in crime.”

Vorderer and several other trustees argued that Streit is finding fault with the police department unnecessarily.

Streit did not challenge Vorderer during the meeting, except to ask, “Has anyone been caught for those burglaries?”

No one has been, but the same offender is now suspected of committing a similar robbery in north suburban Harwood Heights on Sept. 14. Jewelry was stolen in all three cases, and in Harwood Heights, he went into a home and took a ring from a man. A red Buick Enclave SUV was reportedly seen in Oak Lawn and in Harwood Heights.

The suspect in all three cases was described as a man in his 20s or 30s, black, and thin. He was described as wearing a black jacket and black floppy hat in Harwood Heights, and in Oak Lawn, witnesses said he wore a baseball cap and black writing.