LAKE FOREST/LAKE BLUFF — After two armed robbery attempts within two weeks of each other by a knife-wielding unidentified suspect, one in Lake Bluff and the other in Lake Forest, police in those two communities are working together to find the perpetrator.
In each case a man wearing a black hoodie tried to rob women in their 30s. In both cases, the victims described a man of similar height and build, and both women successfully forced the assailant to flee.
In the 1000 block of north Western Avenue in Lake Forest on November 17 at about 5:15 p.m., the victim struck the man at least twice in the head with her cell phone, said Lake Forest Deputy Police Chief Rob Copeland. In Lake Bluff November 4, screams from the victim drove the would-be robber away. The Lake Forest attempted robbery took place at about 5:15 p.m., the Lake Bluff incident at around 11:15 a.m., according to police.
“She hit him in the head with her cell phone a number of times,” said Copeland of the Lake Forest incident. “As soon as she did that he took off running and was last seen running north on Western Avenue.”
The circumstances were similar in Lake Bluff. After the victim started to scream, the perpetrator ran off and “disappeared into the apartments across 176,” said Lake Bluff Police Chief David Belmonte.
In both cases, the victims were outside when accosted. In Lake Forest, the woman was on the street when the robber approached her with a knife and demanded money, according to Copeland. In Lake Bluff, the perpetrator tried to take the victim’s purse in the courtyard of the Carriage Way Shopping Plaza on south Waukegan Road. When she pulled back, he took out the knife, she screamed, and he fled, according to the DNS report.
Nothing was taken in either incident, according to Belmonte and Copeland.
Both Belmonte and Copeland said their departments are scouring each other’s reports and evidence for similarities and other clues. They are not certain it is the same person, but they have not ruled out the possibility.
“There are a few discrepancies, but a lot of the evidence collected is making us take a close look at it,” said Belmonte.
A news release from the Lake Forest Police Department described the perpetrator as a Caucasian male in his late teens. He is estimated to be between 5’8” and 5’9”, thin and wearing a dark hoodie.
In the Lake Bluff incident, the would-be robber was described as 5’8”, slim and wearing a dark hoodie.
“These are very similar instances,” said Copeland. “Lake Forest is looking at Lake Bluff reports. We’re looking for video.”
In both cases the perpetrator used a kitchen knife to intimidate the victim. Copeland said the knife was a stainless steel-blade bigger than a steak knife.
The woman who fended off the perpetrator in Lake Forest was injured; Copeland said she had a cut on her hand. She went to Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital on her own.
Neither Copeland nor Belmonte would say whether it is a good idea to try to repel a person approaching with a knife. Both said a person’s safety was the most important thing.
“Nothing in your possession is more important than your safety, your health or your life,” said Copeland.
Belmonte said as the holidays approach, his department regularly increases patrols around shopping areas, but people should be on the lookout as well.
“In all situations people need to be aware of their surroundings,” said Belmonte.
Copeland echoed Belmonte’s warning about awareness.
“They should be looking around and not down at their cell phones,” said Copeland.
People with further information should contact either the Lake Forest Police at 847-810-3810, the Lake Bluff Police at 847-234-2151, or both.