COOK COUNTY CRIMINAL COURTHOUSE — A South Side burglar gave police the slip Monday when he broke free of his handcuffs and climbed into an air duct at the Morgan Park police station, prosecutors said.
John House, 67, was arrested about 12:40 p.m. Monday after a Beverly homeowner spotted him removing a weed wacker from a garage in the 9100 block of South Leavitt Street, court records show.
Officers brought House to the Morgan Park station, 1900 W. Monterey Ave., and briefly left him handcuffed in an interview room, police said.
It was there that House slipped out of his handcuffs, climbed on to a sink, pulled out several ceiling tiles and tried to make his escape through an air duct, Assistant State's Attorney Lorraine Scaudto said during a bond hearing Tuesday.
Police again arrested House, who is now charged with attempted escape and criminal damage to government property — in addition to burglary and aggravated assault.
According to prosecutors, a 13-year-old boy was home alone Monday afternoon when he spotted House walking in and out of the family's garage near 91st and Leavitt streets.
The boy called his father, who works nearby, Scaduto said. The dad quickly returned home to find House walking down an alley carrying the man's red weed wacker, records show.
When the man confronted House, House pulled a small folding knife and said, "Get the f--- away from me; I have a knife," before dropping the weed wacker and running off, according to an arrest report.
The homeowner followed House until police were able to arrest him in the 9400 block of South Damen Avenue, the report said.
In an email to constituents Tuesday, Ald. Matt O'Shea (19th) called House "a career criminal." Prosecutors said House is currently on parole for a 2012 burglary conviction and probation for a 2016 retail theft.
According to court records, House was convicted of theft in 1997, 2006 and twice in 2005. There are burglary convictions from 1998, 2009 and 2012. House was also convicted of criminal trespass in 1998, domestic violence in 2004 and retail theft earlier this year.
In each of the burglary cases, House was sentenced to six years in prison. Sentences for his other convictions ranged from three to 280 days in Cook County Jail.
Cook County Judge Donald Panarese Jr. on Tuesday said House could be released on his own recognizance pending trial so long as the Cook County Sheriff's Office agrees to provide electronic monitoring. If not, House will be responsible for $250,000 bail.
O'Shea thanked the police and promised to work closely with the Cook County State's Attorney's Office going forward with the case.
"All residents are reminded to always call 911 to report suspicious behavior. When in doubt, always call to make a report, you are not bothering the police," he said.
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