Law and Order, Local Police Reports, Park Forest

Park Forest Police Blotter Reports Through October 22, 2018

Officer Tim Jones Way, Park Forest Police, PFPD
The sign for Officer Tim Jones Way outside the Park Forest Police Department. (Photo: Gary Kopycinski)

Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- Editor’s Note: This police beat coverage represents reports through October 22, 2018. Charges for those arrested in this time period include identity theft, retail theft, driving while license was revoked, and domestic battery.

Providing more details than readers will find in any other police beat reports, we invite readers to subscribe to get the whole story, every day.

eNews Park Forest has always published addresses of those arrested and will continue to do so. 5 ILCS 140/2.15 states that the governmental body (for these reports, the Police Department), shall release information on those who have been charged, including their name, age, and address. This information is necessary to ensure the proper identity of those arrested.

An arrest does not mean that a person is guilty. All those arrested are presumed innocent until proven guilty. It is the policy of eNews Park Forest to not remove items in the public record from publication. If your name is listed in the police reports, we will only add information relevant to the final disposition of the case at hand, e.g. “Mr. Smith was subsequently acquitted,” “Mr. Smith entered a guilty plea,” or “All charges against Mr. Smith were subsequently dropped.” We will do so upon receiving and verifying proof of such disposition.

Persons wishing to leave anonymous information on any criminal matters including narcotics or gang activity are encouraged to call the Park Forest Police Department Investigations Division at (708) 748-1309.

eNews Park Forest reports this information because the public in the United States has the right to know.  When that information is withheld or under-reported, it leaves questions.  We also want to show the work that the police force does every day that is not reported.  Police in Park Forest respond to thousands of calls per year, the vast majority of which do not end up with arrests.  Whether it’s conducting a routine investigation, pulling over a drunk driver, or responding to a possible theft at a store, the work of the police officer deserves acknowledgment by the public.

Theft, Retail Theft

Aaron R. James, 24, 458 Talala St., Park Forest, was arrested on October 15 and charged with one count of theft and one count of retail theft when police responded to a store in the 100 block of South Orchard Drive regarding a report of deceptive practices.

The manager of Family Dollar told police that he was notified through a hotline that someone observed refund receipts in the garbage in Family Dollar. The manager reviewed surveillance video and observed an employee of the store, Aaron R. James, allegedly taking money out of the register and put it in his pants pocket. Mr. James allegedly used a receipt from a customer purchase when there was no customer present, allegedly conducting a refund using that receipt to obtain money spent from the purchase, according to police.

Mr. James had allegedly taken a total of $440.63 from the Family Dollar register in 10 separate incidents occurring between October 10 and October 14, 2018, according to police.

Mr. James was assigned a court date of December 3, 2018 at the Markham Courthouse.

Felony Aggravated Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol

Noal E,. Heidelberg, 30, 23433 S. Western Ave. #A10, Park Forest, was arrested on October 17, and charged with felony aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol, one count of driving while under the influence of alcohol, improper over-taking on right (drove off roadway), operating an uninsured motor vehicle, and driving while license was revoked.

Details on this arrest are here in a separate story.

Depositing in Public Places

Citation, No Arrest

Gary A. Baker, 69, 1000 Cedar Ridge Lane, Richton Park, was issued a municipal citation on October 17 charging depositing in public places after an officer responded to the Park Forest Fire Department, 156 Indianwood Boulevard, to investigate a report of illegal dumping.

The responding officer spoke with a firefighter who said that she was outside near the department’s large glass bay door when she saw an older man exit an older model sedan parked in the driveway of the fire department. The man approached the firefighter and asked if the Park Forest Fire Department accepted needles for disposal. The firefighter replied that they did not. The man shrugged his shoulders and allegedly threw a plastic grocery bag of syringes and needles on the sidewalk of the fire department approximately five feet away from the west entrance door, according to police.

The man then entered his vehicle and left the scene, according to police.

The firefighter notified her lieutenant who requested that she contact the Park Forest Police Department.

The responding officer took possession of the syringes and needles and responded to the Park Forest Police Department. At the police department, a sergeant told the officer that a man had entered the police department approximately 10 minutes prior to the officer being dispatched to the Park Forest Fire Department. The man was advised that the Police Department did not accept needles for disposal and was advised to contact the fire department or a local hospital to inquire how to properly dispose of the needles.

The sergeant and the officer viewed Park Forest Police Department surveillance footage and confirmed that the bag of needles collected at the Park Forest Fire Department was the same bag the subject brought to the Police Department. The sergeant identified the man as Gary Baker, according to police.

Police sent Mr. Baker the municipal citation with the court date of November 15 at the Park Forest Police Department.

Driving While License Was Revoked

Lester L. Exum, 51, 231 Berry St., Park Forest, was arrested on October 17 and charged with one count of possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, expired registration, driving while license was revoked, and operating an uninsured motor vehicle.

An officer traveling north on Western Avenue toward Illinois Street was behind a blue 2008 Chrysler Aspen. The officer conducted a random registration check and learned that the registration for the vehicle expired in July 2018, according to police.

The officer activated his emergency lights and curbed the vehicle on Illinois Street near Sandburg Street. The officer approached the vehicle and noticed a temporary seven-day registration permit in the lower left corner of the rear windshield. The temporary permit was not visible to the officer while following the vehicle, according to the report.

The officer spoke with the driver, later identified as Lester Exum, and told him of the reason for the stop. The officer asked that Mr. Exum furnish his driver’s license and proof of insurance. Mr. Exum responded that he did not have any identification on him and later allegedly admitted that he did not possess a valid Illinois driver’s license, according to police. Mr. Exum further allegedly stated that he did not have valid proof of insurance.

The officer obtained Mr. Exum’s name and date of birth and conducted a law enforcement database inquiry, learning that Mr. Exum’s driving privileges were revoked. Mr. Exum was placed into handcuffs without incident.

While conducting a custodial search of Mr. Exum’s person, the officer located a blue straw, approximately three inches in length, and a small piece of aluminum foil that was folded into a square which contained an off-white powdery substance. The officer suspected that the substance, which Mr. Exum said was cough medicine, was actually a controlled substance similar to others the officer had seen, typically packaged in small “bundles” and snorted through a partial section of a straw, according to police.

The substance field-tested positive for methamphetamine, according to police.

Mr. Exum’s vehicle was towed from the scene.


Cooley C. Childs, 30, 414 Westgate Dr., Park Forest, was arrested on October 18 and charged with one misdemeanor count of theft after police were dispatched at 3:16 PM to the 400 block of Westgate Drive in reference to a report of a domestic dispute.

Upon arrival, police spoke with the complainant who said that she and Mr. Childs had been dating for four months. The complainant said she left to go to Walmart in Hammond for groceries and Mr. Childs contacted her to come back to his house to “chill,” according to the report.

The complainant went to Mr. Childs’ house and put her purse in Mr. Childs’ bedroom on top of his bed. She went into the bathroom and when she returned she noticed that the contents in her purse were moved inside. She then noticed that $78 was missing from next to her cell phone inside her purse.

The complainant asked Mr. Childs where the money was and he allegedly said, “Oh, I took it to the car. I thought we was going to go eat.” The complainant told Mr. Childs to go get her money and return it to her. Mr. Childs said to her, “Come on then, it’s in the car. Let me get it.”

Mr. Childs and the complainant went to the back door of the house. Mr. Childs then allegedly set his alarm code, walked out the door, and took off running through his backyard, according to police.

The complainant left the house due to the fact that the alarm was about to be activated.

The complainant yelled for Mr. Childs to come back but he was nowhere to be found, according to police. The complainant then contacted the Park Forest Police Department.

While speaking with the complainant, a responding officer saw a man walking westbound on Westgate Drive toward their location who matched the description of Mr. Childs. The officer asked the complainant if that was her boyfriend who allegedly took her money and she replied that it was.

Upon seeing the squad cars and police in front of his home, Mr. Childs suddenly turned in the opposite direction and proceeded to walk eastbound on Westgate Drive, crossing the street and proceeding southbound on Wildwood Drive, according to police. The officer got into his squad car and followed Mr. Childs southbound on Wildwood Drive. Police took Mr. Childs into custody at approximately 3:37 PM, according to police.

Identity Theft, Class 3 Felony

Mia N. Daniel, 20, 22739 Richton Square Rd., Richton Park, was arrested on October 22 and charged with one count of identity theft, a class 3 felony, after an officer was summoned to the Park Forest Police Department on October 18 in reference to a report of an unlawful use of a credit card.

The officer spoke with the complainant who said that on October 17 at approximately 4:45 PM she went to Taco Bell to purchase food. She made a purchase at the drive-thru using her debit card. Her transaction was completed by a woman later identified as Mia Daniel. The complainant said she received her food and drove home.

At approximately 7 PM, she checked her online bank statement and observed two charges she was not familiar with. The first charge was made on October 17 at 6:17 PM on and the amount of $191.25. The second charge was made on the same date at 6:23 PM on in the amount of $255. The total of both charges was $446.25, according to police. The complainant said she had not done any shopping on and no one other than herself had permission to use her debit card.

The complainant then recalled that she had not received her card back after purchasing her food at Taco Bell.

The complainant contacted the manager at Taco Bell and apprised her of what allegedly happened. The manager related that Ms. Daniel was working the drive-thru window during the timeframe of the alleged incident. The complainant described her debit card and the manager said that it was still at the store.

The complainant recovered her debit card from the store and attempted to dispute the charges but was unsuccessful due to the time of day. The complainant again tried to dispute the charges on October 18 and was advised to have the incident documented in a police report.

The officer received a copy of video surveillance footage from Taco Bell security. The officer observed the surveillance video and saw Ms. Daniel walk to the front register of the restaurant, set her book bag on the counter while holding her cell phone, pull a rectangular gold object out which was similar in appearance to the complainant’s debit card, and place the card on the counter near the cash register. Ms. Daniel then opened the camera application on her cell phone, adjusted the position of the card on the counter, and allegedly took a photograph of the card, according to police. Ms. Daniel then flipped the card over and allegedly took another photograph, according to police. Ms. Daniel then allegedly slid the card underneath the cash register, according to police.

The officer was advised that Ms. Daniel’s employment had been terminated.

On October 22, the officer was contacted by the store manager who said that at approximately 11 AM a package was delivered to Taco Bell addressed to the store. The manager opened the package, believing it to be inventory-related items, and discovered a pair of Nike shoes inside.

At approximately 5 PM, Ms. Daniel arrived at Taco Bell for a previously scheduled shift despite having been terminated on October 19, 2018, according to the report. The manager spoke to Ms. Daniel regarding the above and Ms. Daniel allegedly told the manager that she did indeed take photographs of the debit card but adamantly denied making any purchases using the information. The manager advised Ms. Daniel to stay inside the store and speak to police regarding this investigation.

An officer responded to the store and made contact with Ms. Daniel in the parking lot of Taco Bell. Ms. Daniel allegedly asked the officer if she could pay the complainant back because she did not want to go to jail, according to police.

The officer placed Ms. Daniel under arrest and transported her to the Park Forest Police Department.

Domestic Battery

Shalay M. Griffin, 33, 427 Talala St., Park Forest, was arrested on October 20 and charged with one count of domestic battery after police responded to the 400 block of Talala Street to investigate a report of a domestic disturbance. Ms. Griffin allegedly struck the complainant in the face with a closed fist.