Prosecutors have charged a Chicago man with robbing three women, the youngest being 75-years-old, outside a Portage Park grocery store since late July. Incredibly, prosecutors said, the store manager took pictures of the robber after the first incident, but they refused to help police with the investigation.
Oswaldo Garza, 44, is charged with three counts of robbery of a victim over the age of 60 and aggravated battery of a victim over the age of 60.
“It appears here from the people’s proffer that he targets and preys upon senior citizens,” Judge Susana Ortiz said before ordering Garza to pay a $10,000 bail deposit to get out of jail on electronic monitoring.
The first robbery occurred on July 29 at 11:44 a.m. Garza approached a 79-year-old woman and ripped two necklaces from her neck, according to prosecutor Zachary Peasall. The woman told police that he took the chains as she was leaving Tony’s Fresh Market, 5630 West Belmont.
Peasall told Ortiz that “a store manager at the location of the incident took cell phone pictures of the incident, however that individual did not cooperate with law enforcement.” Tony’s Fresh Market did not return two messages seeking comment for this story.
The victim walked into the Jefferson Park (16th) District police station and filed a report. Officers photographed her neck, which had a “rope burn-type injury,” according to Peasall.
Garza mugged an 85-year-old woman near the store the next day, too, Peasall said. At around 10:50 a.m., once again riding a Divvy bike with no basket and bent tires, Garza snatched a chain from the woman’s neck as she walked from a bus stop to the grocery store, according to Peasall.
A CPD community alert about the robberies said two women had necklaces yanked from their necks by a man on a bike that day—in the 5600 block of West Belmont at 10:50 a.m. and the 5500 block of West Belmont at 6 p.m. It’s not clear which robbery involved the 85-year-old victim.
On August 7, a 75-year-old woman suffered three facial fractures when Garza yanked a gold chain from her neck as she walked toward Tony’s around 5:05 p.m., according to Peasall. Garza allegedly fled the scene on the beat-up Divvy bike.
The CPD alert said another victim was robbed around 4:55 p.m. the same afternoon in the 3200 block of North Harlem, but Garza has not been charged with that crime.
Chicago cops who know Garza from previous contact identified him from surveillance video on August 9, and patrol officers took him into custody the same day when they saw him standing next to a beat-up Divvy bike in the 1900 block of North Lowell.
According to Peasall, the 85-year-old victim pointed to Garza’s picture in a photo line-up and said he looked like the man who robbed her, but she thought his hair was too long in the photo. Garza is serving a conditional discharge for trespassing in 2022.
According to the CPD alert, another elderly woman was targeted on August 2 in the 5500 block of West Belmont, but Garza was not charged with that crime.
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