On April Fools Day, a Robbins man purchased a 2007 purple/blue Chevy Impala from an individual but noticed that white smoke was coming from the exhaust after a week of driving.
The Robbins man used an App called “Offer Up” to find a discount mechanic, Christopher Melendez, who had the Robbins man drop the car off at a home in Alsip. Melendez agreed to put an engine in the car at a discount price and the Robbins man left the car for the work to be done.
After three weeks, the Robbins man grew suspicious when Melendez was not returning his car or phone calls. The Robbins man went to the house where he had entrusted Melendez with the car but a woman answered the door. She identified herself as the “soon to be ex-wife” of Melendez but provided some possible addresses to find him living at. One of the addresses was an Oak Lawn residence.
The Robbins man called Melendez and eventually he answered the phone and told the Robbins man he could meet up with him in a few days to return the car. The Robbins man drove by the Oak Lawn residence and saw that the Impala was parked there but the license plates had been changed.
The Robbins man turned to the Oak Lawn police for assistance and showed them that he was the owner of the car. The police went to the Oak Lawn address and attempted to check the vehicle identification number but it was covered by a piece of paper.
The Robbins man told the officers that Melendez may be in a particular unit of the building. When a female responded to police she said that nobody named Chris lived at the address. A male soon appeared and when he was asked if he was “Chris” he also said no. When the officer asked his name he then said “Chris”.
He told the officer he didn’t know why the Impala had different plates and he didn’t know where the keys were located. After some prodding by the officer, he allegedly told the police that the keys were in the car. Melendez, perhaps knowing this was the end of his days driving the car, took the plates off the car and took his clothing out of the trunk.
Melendez allegedly told police his name was Christopher Hernandez but the police were soon able to match his real identity to the state’s records. He was arrested for obstructing identification.
The police handed the Robbins man his keys at the police station and the man said he didn’t want to pursue charges against Melendez for criminal trespass to a motor vehicle. He signed a waiver and was on his way.
Melendez is a 37 year old Hispanic male who provided a Chicago address to the police.