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CAPS wrap: Police warn Douglas residents about criminals who target elderly, increase in cell phone snatches

Chicago police officers warned elderly residents in the Douglas neighborhood on the South Side not to buzz strangers into their homes at a Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy meeting last month.

“Criminals target senior buildings because they know the residents are vulnerable,” Chicago police officer Angela Winburn-Wright said at the CAPS meeting for police beat 131. “It’s not a challenge to gain access to their building.”

According to Winburn-Wright, a potential criminal will stand by the building’s doorbell and buzz it until somebody lets him in. When access is gained, the chance of a robbery increases greatly, she said.

Winburn-Wright distributed crime statistics to the meeting attendees, which showed there were more incidents of theft than other crimes in Douglas. From January 2013 to February 2013, there were 31 reports of theft and eight reports of robbery.

During the previous 30-day period, there were 24 reports of theft and three reports of robbery.

Although arrest statistics have risen, the residents of Douglas agreed that crime in the area is not prominent.

“We’ve been good, we’ve been behaving,” said Patricia Ferguson, who has attended CAPS meetings for two years.

Ferguson said the weather is the reason the residents of Douglas have had no complaints about crime.

“It’s cold outside, but you just watch, it’ll pick back up in the summertime,” said Ferguson.

CAPS Sgt. Kathy Cunningham also brought up a correlation between crime and temperature.

“There were many more complaints in the summertime,” said Cunningham. “Most of them were about the kids in the neighborhood staying out past their curfew.”

In addition to home break-ins, Winburn-Wright told the meeting’s attendees that cell phone theft is on the rise because victims are often distracted when they are outside. Both officers at the meeting stressed the importance of staying alert, especially while using a cell phone.

A community alert issued for the CPD’S 1st District warned residents that lone female victims had been approached on the street and had their cell phones taken by force in the are around East 14th Street and South Michigan Avenue.

“We can’t just be in a place where we’re not paying attention,” said Winburn-Wright.

The next CAPS meeting for beat 131 will be Wednesday, March 20, at 125 E. 26th St.

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