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Flour Mistaken for Anthrax and Bad Customer Service Impersonation

A look at unusual crimes in our Patch region this week.

Local police departments provided the following reports. In all incidents where an arrest occurred, a charge is merely an accusation and not evidence of guilt.

The Evanston Post Office was evacuated after an employee spotted an "unknown white powder” on the outside of a package. The fire department issued a call for mutual aid from nearby communities, and 12 neighboring suburbs responded, sending at least as many trucks.

Not long after the hazardous materials team arrived, officials were able to identify the substance as flour mixed with cooking spices. An Evanston resident had purchased it for himself in California and mailed it home.

(A special OMG PD shout out to the Evanston business group who, on Facebook, shared the article while pointing out the benefits of shopping local for your spices.)

A 29-year-old man was arrested when police said he tried to leave a Northbrook grocery store without paying for $793.53 worth of Ciroc Vodka.

A Trek bike valued at $2,686 was stolen from an unlocked garage in Wilmette. The thief bypassed other bikes in the garage.

A 49-year-old Northbrook woman was charged with battery and retail theft after biting the hand of a grocery store security guard who tried taking her into custody for allegedly removing two bottles of wine, valued at $100, according to police. 

A Niles police officer investigating what appeared to be a fraudulent use of a credit card called the customer service phone number on the back of the Visa card, and a person answered the phone saying "hello," leading police to suspect it was a personal phone line, they said. The officer asked about the phone number and the man on the line stated the officer had dialed a wrong number.

The officer hung up and dialed the number again. This time, according to the report, a male voice answered the phone, stating, "deleted card customer service." The voice sounded like the same person that answered the previous call, police said.

The officer asked if there were a fraud department, and the subject said he would transfer the call. According to the report, it sounded as if the phone was placed on a table, and then the same voice returned to the phone saying, "fraud department."

The officer hung up the phone and dialed Visa Customer Service, which verified the credit card number was not valid, and additionally verified the customer service phone number on the back of the card was not a valid Visa phone number.

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