COOK COUNTY CRIMINAL COURTHOUSE — A South Side man is charged with violently shoving a 75-year-old woman from her walker, knocking her to the ground in a Lakeview elevator and robbing her.
Police released video of the March 27 attack last week as they tried to identify a suspect.
According to prosecutors, at least one witness named 61-year-old Darren Berlin as the assailant. He was arrested Wednesday when police caught him sitting in a stolen Lexus in Woodlawn, court records show.
The parolee now faces charges of robbing a victim over 60, theft, criminal damage to property and criminal trespass to a vehicle. On Friday, Cook County Judge Maria Kuriakos Ciesil set bail at $200,000.
Prosecutors allege Berlin approached a 75-year-old woman in an elevator in her building in the 3600 block of North Pine Grove Avenue about 8:40 p.m. March 27.
Berlin had walked into the building's lobby, which is typically locked, when a resident left a few moments earlier, Assistant State's Attorney Lorraine Scaduto said during a bond hearing Friday.
As the 75-year-old victim tried to leave the elevator, Berlin used both hands to shove her backwards, prosecutors said. He then allegedly grabbed a black bag attached to the walker and stole the woman's wallet, credit cards, ID and $165 cash.
The woman's rib was broken in the attack, prosecutors said, and she suffered bruises to her right leg.
Berlin then ran outside and flagged a cab, which took him to the South Side, according to Scaduto.
After police released video of the attack, at least one woman came forward to identify Berlin, a man she knew as "Larry," prosecutors said. Berlin, who's previously used the aliases Larry Tolliver and Anthony Joseph, had done work inside the woman's shop, Scaduto noted.
Berlin, who is currently on parole for retail theft, was arrested about 4 p.m. Thursday in the 6200 block of South Vernon Avenue after police spotted him sitting in a stolen 2005 Lexus, court records show.
The car was parked illegally, according to an arrest report. When police ran its license plates, they realized it was stolen and found Berlin, who was sitting in the driver's seat with keys in the ignition, the report said.
Berlin has 13 prior felony convictions for burglaries, residential burglaries, armed robbery, theft and retail theft, Scaduto said.
According to his public defender, Berlin has five children and previously worked as a barber.
Police at a CAPS meeting Wednesday described how Berlin was able to enter the 75-year-old victim's building.
"He just hung out in front, bummed a smoke from somebody," Sgt. Jason Clark said. A person with arms full of groceries accepted his help holding the door, "and he of course followed her right back in," Clark said.
While it can be awkward to challenge someone waiting at your residential building, officers at the Town Hall District community meeting advised neighbors to play it safe.
It's difficult, "especially when they seem nice enough to help you," Clark said. "But that's the con they play."
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