Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Alleged Tinley scammer caught - Dodge Charger

'Busy boy'Suspect was out on parole for attempted burglary

Tinley Park police say the man who has been scamming local residents trying to sell their vehicles and car parts is a parolee from Chicago with a history of attempted burglary.

Village police picked up Kevin Thomas, 29, of the 2800 block of 87th Street, Chicago, Friday. They charged him with three counts of felony theft by deception, Detective Ken Karczewski said. Thomas appeared in bond court Saturday, where a judge sent him to jail with no bail.

Since Thomas' arrest, Karczewski said he's received calls from about a dozen law enforcement agencies wondering if Thomas has committed similar crimes in their communities. Thomas most likely did, at least in a few cases, Karczewski said.

"He's been out on parole since January for attempted burglary, and he's been a very busy boy," Karczewski said.

Last month, police believe Thomas scammed a handful of people he met in Tinley Park by exchanging fake Bank of America cashier's checks for their vehicles and auto parts. Thomas went by the name Kyle Bradshaw, showed his victims a Wisconsin driver's license and allowed them to photograph it, police said.

On March 15, he gave a $24,000 cashier's check to a Tinley Park resident for his Dodge Charger. They met at the man's home, police said. Three days later, Thomas gave a Peru, Ill., man, whom he met at Speedway, 7201 183rd St., a phony $3,750 cashier's check for a set of chrome rims and tires.

On March 22, Thomas gave a Plainfield couple a $17,200 cashier's check for their 2004 Chevrolet Silverado. They met at Odyssey Fun World, 19101 S. Oak Park Ave.

The victims posted their vehicles and auto parts for sale online or in trade magazines. Karczewski said he wasn't sure if they would see their vehicles or auto parts again. So far, police have recovered the Dodge Charger. It was partially stripped.

To prevent getting scammed, Karczewski suggests buyers and sellers go to banks together to make sure any checks exchanged are valid.

"That way you can't get burned," he said.

Kristen Schorsch can be reached at kschorsch@southtownstar.com or (708) 633-5992. Kristen also blogs about Tinley Park at blogs.southtownstar.com.

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