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Two Men Charged with Carjacking, Robbery in Separate Incidents

Good police work, quality of CTA surveillance video helped link the crimes to the suspects, police said.

One man from Chicago and another from Bellwood will appear for a preliminary hearing in Maybrook Court Thursday on charges that they hijacked a car and robbed a medical student in separate incidents in Forest Park over two weeks, police said.

Joshua R. Brooks, 22, and Michael J. James, 21, are accused of one count each of vehicular hijacking after an incident that took place Oct. 19 in the 400 block of Beloit Avenue. Both also stand accused of one count of robbery for an incident Oct. 9 near the CTA Blue Line train in the 600 block of Circle Avenue.

Both were arrested on Oct. 19 in Chicago. Bail for Brooks was set at $250,000; bail for James was set at $100,000. Both are in Cook County Jail, according to Cook County Sheriff's Police.

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Here's how the incidents came down:

According to police, a 23-year-old medical student was walking to the CTA Blue Line platform in the 600 block of Circle Avenue in the early morning hours of Oct. 9 when he was approached from behind by two suspects, later identified as Brooks and James.

Police said one put the student in a headlock and both dragged him into a gangway, where they rifled through his pockets and took his cell phone and a wallet containing cash and a credit card and took off. The student was uninjured in the attack, Forest Park Dep. Chief Thomas Aftanas said.

After the robbery, the pair jumped on an eastbound CTA Blue Line Train at Harlem Avenue, police said.

Then in the early morning hours of Oct. 19, a woman, who was retrieving a credit card from a purse that was in her car, was knocked to the ground by two men who held her down between a fence and a utility pole.The woman began screaming and one offender yelled at her "Do you want to die?" "Stop screaming if you [don't] want to die."

A purse containing a cell phone, $80, a checkbook, debit card and makeup was inside the 2000 Chevrolet Malibu, which was parked in the 400 block of Beloit Avenue, behind her house. The pair took off south in her car through the alley of the 400 block of Hannah/Beloit.

The victim told police she had been at Doc Ryan's with her boyfriend shortly before the incident took place.

The victim sustained a slight cut on the inside upper lip and a reddish line along the right side of her forehead, but she refused medical treatment.

Later in that day, Brooks and James were tracked down to Chicago after a credit card company notified police that someone attempted to buy gasoline using a stolen credit card, Aftanas said.

Police went to the gas station in the 4700 block of Monroe Street where the pair tried to use the card, searched the general area and found the Chevrolet Malibu. The pair went back to the car and they were apprehended and brought in for questioning, Aftanas said.

From the CTA surveillance video of the pair getting on the train and the video at the gas station, police were able to link the pair to both incidents. The victims identified the pair in a line-up, Aftanas said.

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