Cops: Landscapers Lose Leaf Blower in Alleged Armed Robbery

Nearby school put on lockdown while police searched for suspects

A landscaping crew in a northern Chicago suburb was robbed of their leaf blower by two men in broad daylight, police said.

Ignacio Alvarez, 31, of the 700 block of Wadsworth Avenue in Waukegan, was charged with theft. Juan Nieto, 31, of the 300 block of Powell Avenue, also in Waukegan, was also charged with theft.

The landscapers reported that several suspects robbed them at gunpoint in the 400 block of Linden Avenue about 1:20 p.m. in Lake Forest on Thursday, police said in a news release.

Police tracked down a brown Honda based on a description from the landscapers on Deerpath and Walnut roads. The driver was taken into custody but the passenger bailed from the car. Police thought he ran down nearby Metra tracks, causing trains to be delayed about 35 minutes while a Lake County Sheriff K9 unit searched the area, police said.

Highland Park, Highwood and Lake Bluff police assisted, and a Lake Bluff officer apprehended the second man who ran from the car, police said.

No gun was recovered from the men or the car but police say they admitted to being involved in the robbery. The men denied having a gun and the victims said they might have seen a cellphone, police said. 

Police said the incident caused nearby Woodlands Academy to be placed on a brief lockdown.

Eight communities have recently experienced leaf blower thefts, police said, including Lake Forest, Lake Bluff, Northfield, Lincolnshire, Tinley Park, Elmhurst and Rolling Meadows. Police said it is unknown if Alvarez or Nieto are responsible for the other thefts.

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