Neighbors, police use tech tools to hunt Garfield Ridge burglar
Old-fashioned neighborliness combined with 21stcentury
communications tools have resulted in the arrest of a career criminal wanted
for the attempted burglary of a home in Garfield Ridge.
Clearing resident Gregory Petrulias, 51, of the 6000 block
of South Meade, is currently held on a $150,000 bond by the Cook County
Department of Corrections.His next court date is Monday, May 1 at 51stand
Police said that Petrulias was the man captured on
back-porch surveillance video, attempting to break into a corner home near 56thand
Newland at about 2 p.m. Friday, April 14.
No one was home at the time. The homeowner said she had left
her house, with her dogs, to go visit her father. While she was away, she
monitored her camera from a remote location, saw the action unfolding as a man
entered her backyard, looked around, put on gloves and appeared to try to open
the back door.
The victim immediately called a neighbor who was at home.
The neighbor called police and went over to confront the intruder, scaring him
The victim posted a video clip of the incident to at least
one local Facebook group, offering a $2,000 reward for information leading to
the intruder’s arrest and conviction.
Others shared the video clip to other Facebook groups, where
it was seen by hundreds of people, including police officers. Several in the
groups said they recognized the man from his frequent rides around the
neighborhood on a green bicycle.
Three days after the incidentÑat 10:33 a.m. Monday, April 17Ñpolice
responding to a “suspicious person” call in the West Lawn neighborhood chased
Petrulias and captured him in a residential yard in the 6300 block of South
KilpatrickÑwhere police said they found him hiding.
Officers said they recognized him from the surveillance
footage from 56thand Newland, police told the Southwest
News-Herald. He was taken to the Chicago Lawn (8th) District Police
Station and charged with attempted burglary and criminal trespass to land.
The arrest of Petrulias was a topic of discussion at the
April meeting of the Garfield Ridge Neighborhood Watch.
“This situation is a very good example of people-to-people
communication aided by modern technology tools, resulting in the arrest of a
criminal suspect,” said GRNW President Al Cacciottolo. “The homeowner had
installed a state-of-the-art security camera that captured clear images that
she could and did monitor in real time.
“She knew her neighbor and reached out to her for help. The
neighbor responded by yelling at the guy to go away, and he did,” Cacciottolo
continued. “Then the homeowner used the Internet to spread the wordÑand the
police recognized this guy. All of these people working together and using
technology to spread the word resulted in the arrest [of Petrulias]. Without
that, he probably would never have been caught.”
GRNW board member Janja Taylor agreed.
“This situation is an illustration of the value of knowing
your neighbors, of knowing who belongs and who doesn’t, and if something is
awry, who do we contact,” she said at the GRNW meeting, held at Bridgeview
Bank. “These are the type of neighbor-to-neighbor relationships we encourage
people to build on their blocks.”
According to public records, Petrulias has criminal
convictions dating back to 1986, relating to such crimes as burglary, auto
theft, aggravated battery and escape from a penal institution.
Also, Petrulias is listed as a sex offender on an Illinois
State Police website in relation to his 2004 conviction on a charge of indecent
solicitation of a child. Petrulias was 39 years old at the time. The victim was
(Editor’s Note: More news coverage and photos in the
print edition of the Southwest News-Herald, available on local newsstands. Or
better yet, call 708-496-0265 during weekday business hours and order
convenient home delivery for about 50 cents a week.)
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