Law and Order, Local, Local Police Reports, Park Forest

Park Forest Woman Carjacked at Homewood Walmart

A Park Forest woman was carjacked in Homewood.
A Park Forest woman was carjacked in Homewood Sunday. (MGN)

Homewood, IL-(ENEWSPF)- A Park Forest woman was carjacked at the gas station at the Walmart in Homewood, eNews Park Forest has learned. The woman tells ENEWSPF while she was filling up her car, someone got inside her vehicle and drove quickly away from the pump, “like lightning,” the woman said.

Her vehicle was running while she filled up the tank.

The woman said she was in a hurry and began filling up her car, leaving her phone and purse on the passenger seat of her vehicle. A witness later told her they noticed a suspicious vehicle driving around the lot slowly, as if they were looking for an opportunity to present itself.

Homewood police told her there have been increased instances of carjackings in their area, that people come “from Chicago” for this purpose.

The Homewood Walmart is immediately south of the I-294 toll road.

Chicagoland Carjackings on the Rise — What to do to Protect Yourself: Interview with PFPD Chief Mannino

The Park Forest woman lost her car, her phone, and her purse, leaving her without access to her banking.

“Now I know, hurry or not, there’s certain things you should do to prevent this,” she said. “I wouldn’t want this to happen to anybody else. It was nightmarish.”

The woman said she thinks things could have been much worse if she had seen the person enter her car, fearful that her reaction at that point could have led to her experiencing personal harm.

“It could have ended up badly, besides losing all my stuff,” she said. “I’m glad I didn’t see what was going on.”

As it was, whoever took her car got into the open vehicle while her back was to the front door. In a flash, her car accelerated and was gone, she said.

She said if her story saves one person, it’s worth telling.

Moving forward?

“If I have my purse in the passenger seat, I’m going to lock the car,” she said. “Especially for a woman, if she has a purse, lock the car.”

Park Forest Police Advise on Carjackings

Chief Christopher Mannino of the Park Forest Police Department gave advice to eNews Park Forest readers in an article last April when a report by the Chicago Tribune revealed that carjackings in Chicago rose by 135% in 2020, from 603 in 2019 to 1415.

While Park Forest has not seen a spike in carjackings, the advice Chief Mannino gave to our reporter John Hudzik bears repeating.

According to the Chief, carjackings can happen at any time, in any location, and to any vehicle type, so there is never a time to let down your guard.  Scan the area as you approach your vehicle, and lock the car doors as soon as you get in.  When parking, avoid remote or dimly lit areas and again, be aware of anyone else in the area.

First and foremost, Mannino advises that residents remain observant of their surroundings as well as to trust their instincts.  Be aware of people who seem to be watching others without reason.  If the situation seems concerning, do not take a chance – leave the area immediately.

If you are approached by a carjacker, your safety is the top priority.  Chief Mannino says you should not resist the carjacker, especially if they are armed.  Surrender your keys and wallet if asked and move away from the vehicle to a safe location where you can call 911 for assistance.  The only time a victim should resist is if they are being physically assaulted.  Try to remember as many details as possible to assist the police in their investigation.