A Chicago man with an extensive criminal history of robbery and burglary has been arrested in connection with a string of similar incidents in Forest Park and Oak Park, police said.
Carl Griffin, 44, was out on parole when he was charged with three counts of burglary and one count of felony theft to businesses along Madison Street this summer, Forest Park police said.
He also has been charged with breaking into an Oak Park convenience store in August, Oak Park police said.
Griffin was picked up Sept. 3 around 5:36 a.m. in the 400 block of Marengo Avenue after an officer found that his face matched a picture on a flyer that police circulated around Forest Park about the incidents, authorities said. The photo on the flyers had been taken off surveillance footage from at least one store that had been hit.
Two incidents took place at the same store almost two weeks apart. On July 17, Griffin walked into Krenek's Antiques, 7501 Madison St., and asked to see diamond rings. An employee told police Griffin first looked at a couple of inexpensive ones and when he didn't seem satisfied, looked at a 14k two-tone diamong ring, valued at $4,595.
After examining that ring and a couple of others, police said Griffin banged his hands on the glass display case and ran out with the two-tone ring. He dropped a small plastic bag containing two silver forks and two silver spoons in his escape. One witness saw him running west on Madison Street to northbound Des Plaines and then called police.
On July 30, police said Griffin returned to Krenek's and took several dozen gold and precious stone rings. When police went to the store around 5:55 a.m., they found that the glass front door was shattered and a large section of the glass was completely missing. The jewelry was taken from a display case that had been shattered in the process. A construction-like hard hat and a pair of safety goggles were found on the scene, police said.
Police said nearly a month later, Griffin on Aug. 24 broke the glass door of the the Emporium, 7345 Madison St., smashed two glass cases and took jewelry and antique spoons, valued at almost $3,000.
A couple of weeks earlier, on Aug. 11, Griffin broke into Unity Foods, 416 N. Austin Blvd. and came out with a large garbage bag filled with cigarettes and lottery tickets, Det. Sgt. Michael Richardson said. A witness saw him loitering around the front of the store at 7:58 a.m. and then come out with the bag about five minutes later. He then called police. The witness to that incident has identified Griffin in a lineup, Richardson said.
On Sept. 3, Griffin shattered the front door and the glass top of a display case at Yearbook, 7316 Madison St., taking among other things a bracelet, an antique lighter and knife, all of which police said they found in the front pocket of his hooded sweatshirt. A claw hammer was found in his waistband, police said.
Forest Park Deputy Chief Tom Aftanas said Griffin had an extensive criminal history with 31 prior arrests and a dozen convictions for burglary and theft.