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Antioch cops’ Facebook alert brings in tips, followers

Updated: March 2, 2013 6:58AM

ANTIOCH — A Neighborhood Watch alert about a possible home break-in “struck a nerve” with residents, while police got a wealth of information and more than a hundred social media followers.

Antioch police posted the alert Monday on the department’s Neighborhood Watch Facebook page for a white pickup truck with a freezer in the back and “Windy City Quality Foods” on it after a woman reported a man entered her home and then exited after she yelled at him.

The feedback from the Facebook page and an email blast police sent out has given police clues to work with, including reports from other people in other neighborhoods who purchased products or had a salesman come to their doors.

“It definitely struck a nerve,” Police Chief Craig Somerville said Tuesday, explaining the department had 180 hits on the page. Add in the 450 people signed up for email alerts and “that’s a lot of eyes and ears.”

In the Monday incident, the woman told police it was 1:44 p.m. when she heard knocking at the front door and her dog barking. Because she was pre-occupied she did not answer the door.

Then she heard footsteps inside the house and a male voice talking to her dog and asking if anyone was home. The woman exited the room she was in and confronted the man, yelling at him. He apologized and exited the home.

He got into the two-door pickup truck with lettering that said Windy City Quality Foods on the side. A white freezer was in the bed of the truck.

Somerville said the incident is under investigation and the owner of the foods business that sells frozen meat door-to-door and online is cooperating. Windy City Quality Foods is a Gurnee-based business which sells everything from steaks, chicken, seafood, pork, ribs and cheesecake.

Antioch has a solicitation ordinance where solicitors have to go through a background check and have a village-issued identification with a photograph of the solicitor and a permit before they can go door-to-door. The only groups not requiring the identification are political or religious groups.

Somerville said police are re-interviewing everyone in the case to make sure the details are correct before issuing any citations or making an arrest.

“We just want to make sure it is what it is,” he said.

The white man was described as being in his late 20s, early 30s with blond hair, medium build and about six feet tall. He was wearing blue jeans and gray work shirt with Windy City Quality Foods logo on the front.

Somerville said the Facebook page has been a nice addition to Antioch’s Neighborhood Watch program that has a good core group of about 30 people and continues to expand.

Sometimes there can be unforeseen problems. Somerville said with a past alert he started getting posts from a man who kept lamenting the fact there was so much crime in town. But as it turned out, the man thought the page was for Antioch, Calif.

“I get criticized, it comes with the territory. But I had to add Illinois to the Web site so there’s no confusion,” he said.

As part of his mission statement on the page, he promises residents to be honest about crime trends, drugs and gangs. “I don’t believe we can take the stance of ‘How could this happen in Antioch?’” he said.

“The first step in solving the problem is acknowledging a problem exists. Heroin addiction is a plague which has ascended on our nation, and Antioch is not immune,” he said in the mission statement.“We fight this battle on many fronts and we need the community to buy in to this fight with us. The essence of the Neighborhood Watch is to educate citizens and equip them to reduce the likelihood of becoming a crime victim.”

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