Here's to dogged Chicago detective work | Bleader

Here's to dogged Chicago detective work

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In May of 2012 I was a burglary victim. Someone broke into my apartment while I was sleeping and stole a laptop, a cell phone, and some money from a change jar. The thief must have been skilled. I didn't hear a thing during the night (and I'm a very light sleeper), and the only notice of forced entry was a slightly ajar window. The perpetrator slipped out through the back door, which I noticed had been unlocked from the inside.

The NATO summit was going on in Chicago around that time. I wrote a petulant post on the Bleader called "How to file a police report when NATO is in town" detailing my missteps and misadventures trying to file a report about the crime.

In July of 2012 I was a burglary victim. Someone broke into my apartment while I was sleeping and stole a laptop, a cell phone, and some money from a change jar. The thief must have been skilled. I didn't hear a thing during the night (and I'm a very light sleeper), and the only notice of forced entry was a slightly ajar window. The perpetrator slipped out through the back door, which I noticed had been unlocked from the inside.

The above paragraph is not a mistaken repeat of the first paragraph. What happened in May happened again in July. How stupid I am, I thought—probably the same thief, following up on an easy target.

This time, however, as an experienced burglee, I knew better what to do: call 911 instead of 311 and wait for a detective to come by.

A detective did come by, looked things over, asked questions, took photos, dusted for fingerprints, made a report, and said if anything turns up they'll let me know.

I never expected to see my laptops or phones again. Certainly not my spare change either. After some months went by, a year, I never expected to hear anything about the thefts. But I lock the rear windows whenever I leave the apartment, no matter the weather.

So I was shocked recently to receive a letter from the Chicago Police Department. (First thought: What the hell did I do?)

On a form letter headed Chicago Police Department Detective Victim Letter, and referencing my case, was this handwritten line:

Please contact me ASAP. It is regarding the fingerprint evidence.

Actual jar that was dusted for prints
  • Actual jar that was dusted for prints

Wow. Two years after the crime and they may have found the criminal! I felt giddy and curious.

Detective Kevin Carney told me that the fingerprints found on my spare-change jar matched those of a recently convicted man who'd been sentenced to six years in prison. He sent me a link to the inmate's Department of Corrections ID page. Did I recognize the guy? No. Did I want to pursue further charges? No, I said, six years sounds like plenty. I thanked the detective for keeping the case open and for following up.

I know I'll never get those laptops and cell phones back. And the perp is in prison, at least for a while. But I still lock my windows when I leave home.

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