WICKER PARK — The manager of a North Avenue bar believes his call to 911 might have put a thief responsible for breaking into his bar behind bars — but not before a police chase in which the man allegedly hopped from garage rooftop to rooftop trying to get away.
Dwayne Johnson, 51, of the 2100 Block of West Warren Blvd., was charged with burglary to a business on the 1600 Block of West North Avenue on Thursday, said Officer Jenel Sedevic, a police spokeswoman.
Around 4:40 a.m Thursday, Jim Weber, general manager of @North Bar at 1637 W. North Ave., said he was sleeping in his apartment, located above the bar, when he "started hearing pounding," like someone was at the door of the bar downstairs.
But it was too early even for a cleaning crew, Weber said, so he called 911.
Weber saw a man go across the street and then watched him come back to the doorway of the bar, which was formerly the Wicker Well.
The alleged burglar then "pops the lock," Weber said.
After hearing what sounded like a cash register slam to the ground, Weber said he called 911 a second time, and just as the man was leaving the bar with a cash register drawer in his hand, the police came.
A source said the man tried to escape by climbing onto the rooftop of a garage, then jumping to another garage roof.
Johnson was eventually arrested in the 1600 block of North Paulina Street, police said.
Weber said a few hundred dollars that was taken from the bar, held together by the same paper clips Weber uses, was recovered along with a laptop stolen from the bar in a car, parked about a block away from the establishment.
"He took off running in the neighborhood and they hopped in their car and chased him and cornered him," Weber said.
Weber estimated it was about five minutes between his first and second call to 911 and called it "good timing" on the police's part.
Weber is grateful police showed up quickly. He did not go downstairs to confront the man because "money and things ain't as important as my life."
Weber said the break-in appears similar to a rash of other break-ins at other businesses in the area. That includes burglaries of seven businesses in Bucktown and attempted break-ins at two bars on Division Street last Friday, including one that got national attention after a man is seen in security video breaking a lock at The Shambles and then forcefully attempting to pull open a door marked "push." He failed and left the scene without entering the bar.
Police would not say whether they believe the break-in @North Bar was connected to the other crimes.
But earlier this week, Officer Jose Estrada, a Chicago Police Department spokesman, said the two Division Street attempts were "being reviewed, as they fit the similar characteristics as other burglary crimes in the same vicinity."
In December, a thief was able to break into three Wicker Park cafes and steal hundreds of dollars after removing door locks in a similar fashion as the incident at @North Bar.
"If it is the guy, I'm definitely glad he's not able to break into any more places," Weber said.
Contributing: Tanveer Ali