Homeless man stole CTA van so he could sleep in it, officials say

CHICAGO — A Chicago man charged with stealing a CTA cargo van this week told police he took the vehicle so he would have a place to sleep, officials said Friday.

The transit agency reported one of its utility vans stolen from near Pulaski and Roosevelt shortly after midnight Thursday. It had CTA logos on the side and rear, but they were painted over with primer by the time CPD’s helicopter unit spotted it around 11 a.m., prosecutors said.

Directed by the helicopter crew, ground units found the van near Division and Central and tried to pull it over. But the driver did not stop and even hit their unmarked squad car as he attempted to flee, according to prosecutors.

The helicopter continued to shadow the van until cops in suburban Forest Park stopped it. They arrested the driver, identified as 41-year-old Victor Perez, to face charges of aggravated possession of a stolen motor vehicle, fleeing and eluding, driving on a suspended license, and criminal damage to government property.

Perez | CCSO

During Perez’ bail hearing on Friday afternoon, Judge Charles Beach noted that the Chicago Police Department’s arrest report said Perez told officers that he took the van so he could sleep in it.

The judge decided to release Perez on his own recognizance, but only if he goes on electronic monitoring at a residential center operated by a social service agency.

Prosecutors told Beach that Perez has four felony convictions, the most recent being in 2009 for unlawful use of a weapon by a felon. He was also convicted of attempted armed robbery in 2003, burglary in 2002, and illegal possession of a firearm in 2001, according to officials.

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