Harwood Heights Police seeking victims of reported cash scam
Updated: February 25, 2013 6:14AM
HARWOOD HEIGHTS — Harwood Heights police are looking for victims of a ladder/cash scam to come forward and sign complaints.
Michael McDonald, 40, 4548 N. Oak Park Ave. in Harwood Heights, was charged at 2:40 a.m. Jan. 2 with four counts of theft after he allegedly told his victim he had locked himself out of his home and needed a ladder or money.
McDonald received a Jan. 28 court date in Rolling Meadows.
Harwood Heights Cmdr. John DeVries said McDonald confessed to scamming 15 people out of money, with the average amount being $40.
In each case, a man would come to the door in the late night or early morning hours saying he was a neighbor who had locked himself out of his home and was seeking a ladder to get in through an unlocked window, according to police reports.
When no ladder was available, the suspect would ask for cash either to call a locksmith or to take a cab to a Chicago hospital where his wife/girlfriend worked.
Harwood Heights police currently have 11 open cases dating from Nov. 8 to Jan. 2.
So far, only four victims have come forward to sign complaints.
McDonald is descried as a clean-cut man who was wearing dress pants and a sports coat during the alleged scams.
“We would like the other victims to contact us before the court date,” DeVries said. “Then we could re-arrest him and add more charges.”
According to DeVries, McDonald said he recently lost his job as a car salesman, started drinking and became depressed.
“He told officers he was glad they caught him,” DeVries said. “He said he didn’t like what his life had become.”
On Jan. 2, Harwood Heights police were on patrol when they learned that Norridge police had received a call about a suspicious person on the 4200 block of Newland Avenue.
While in the area, Sgt. Steve Biagi of the Harwood Heights police observed a vehicle abruptly turn off Montrose Avenue onto Harlem Avenue, circle a gas station and then head east back down Montrose.
The driver parked the vehicle in the alley and went into his home on the 4500 block of Newland, on the Harwood Heights side of the boundary between the two villages.
Biagi approached the vehicle to speak with the male passenger, who turned out to be McDonald.
“The owner of the vehicle was coming out of his house with $30 to give to (McDonald),” DeVries said.
Since the Jan. 2 arrest, the Harwood Heights Police Department has not received any more calls about the scam.
DeVries said anyone who believes they had come in contact with McDonald should call the Police Department at (708) 867-4353.