CHICAGO (CBS) — A young man stood charged with a felony Monday night, after police said he was caught cutting the lights in Brighton Park.
It is a resurging problem with Chicago’s gangs. CBS 2’s Tara Molina has been tracking it closely for several weeks.
The lights were back on along Maplewood Avenue near Pope John Paul II Drive (43rd Street) Monday night. But that was exactly where authorities said Pedro Arriaga, 19, was seen cutting the lights – on a street we’ve reported on before.
We’re told police caught him in the act, but surveillance cameras caught a few others.
As seen in surveillance video, it only takes a second – someone walks up to the light pole across the street and bends down. Moments later, the whole block is left in darkness.
It’s what police said Arriaga was seen doing on Maplewood Avenue just days ago.
“Officers observed the damaged light pole with wires pulled,” a police report said.
Now, Arriaga is looking at a felony charge of criminal damage to government property.
We’ve tracked the issue in Brighton Park for weeks.
“It’s scary,” said Sharon O’Sullivan in a Nov. 22 report. “I don’t usually stand out here right now.”
“Thanks to your reporting, Tara, you know, a number of my residents have come forward – calling my office, calling me personally, messaging me – when they’ve seem individuals out on the street trying to vandalize the light poles,” said Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th).
Lopez hopes those felony charges against Arriaga send another clear message.
“That we are taking these crimes seriously; that we are not just turning a blind eye, slap on the wrist, and out the door you go, Lopez said. “I hope the State’s Attorney sticks with it and holds him fully accountable.”
Lopez doesn’t just represent people who are sick of living in the dark and living in fear. It’s his problem too. That surveillance video that is seen in Molina’s story is Lopez’s.
“We caught one,” Lopez said. “We’ll continue to try to catch the rest, until they get the point this isn’t the felony they want to catch.”
State Sen. Tony Munoz (D-Chicago) has committed to earmarking state money to replace some of the light poles with new ones that can’t be tampered with,
Molina is told that was still a work in progress as of Monday night.