WEST TOWN — After potted plants and trees were stolen from a West Town neighbor, Chicago Police arrested two men on Monday on felony theft charges in connection with the incident.
Christopher Natale, 49, and Gene Wilson, 48, were arrested at 5:35 p.m. Monday on two counts of theft of goods worth less than $500. A bond hearing is scheduled for today at Central Bond Court, 2600 S. California Ave.
Officers identified the men as the plant thieves during a traffic stop Monday. Video surveillance provided by neighbors helped identify the men, police said.
On July 24, video footage from the 2100 block of West Chicago Avenue and 1200 block of North Fry Street show Natale and Wilson stealing outdoor planters and potted plants and trees.
Jessica DeWeese is the victim who lives on Fry Street. Natale and Wilson allegedly stole two whiskey barrels full of potted plants and two potted arborvitae trees.
DeWeese said she planted her trees five years ago.
“They’re heavy!” she said. “Can’t believe they took them.”
Here’s what the video footage shows:
At about 1:30 a.m. July 24, the men in the video parked a cream-colored car outside DeWeese’s home on Fry Street.
Both walked at a brisk pace toward her porch. They grabbed one whiskey barrel each and placed the barrels into the backseat of the sedan.
The men then returned to the house and grabbed one potted tree each, and placed the trees into the trunk.
DeWeese isn’t alone. In recent months, a handful of West Town neighbors have reported similar thefts in posts in neighborhood Facebook groups. The posts describe late-night or early-morning pilfering of potted flowers, plants or trees.
DeWeese said she was impressed how quickly a suspect was identified from her home surveillance video.
“It’s amazing how well [the camera] worked to catch them,” she said. “I’m glad so many people are getting the cameras.”