Guns, drugs and stolen vehicles: Arrests surge in Topgolf Naperville parking lot

ByChuck Goudie and Barb Markoff, Christine Tressel and Tom Jones WLS logo
Friday, March 8, 2024
Guns, drugs and stolen vehicles: Arrests surge in TopGolf Naperville parking lot
There have been 14 arrests in the Topgolf parking lot since last July: One for a stolen vehicle, another for possession of narcotics, and 12 arrests for illegally possessed firearm

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A popular attraction in the west suburbs has been the scene of guns, drugs and stolen vehicles recovered like never before.

With neon lights and a location just off I-88, Topgolf Naperville is branded as easy access family entertainment.

But since last summer, it's been on the Naperville police department's radar as a "high crime area," with more than a dozen people arrested for felony crimes.

There have been 14 arrests in the Topgolf parking lot since last July: One for a stolen vehicle, another for possession of narcotics, and 12 arrests for illegally possessed firearms, according to records obtained by the I-Team through a Freedom of Information request.

The most recent gun-related arrest occurred this past weekend.

Naperville police tell the I-Team there are no known connections between all of the arrests, and in a majority of the cases, the guns or drugs were left in vehicles parked at Topgolf and could reportedly be seen in plain-view by Naperville officers walking through the lot.

Like in one case last September, when Naperville officers looked through the driver-side window of a parked car and reported seeing a black Glock firearm with a laser sight and "red switch," a device that converts a handgun into a machine gun.

Officers stood back, waiting and watching until Jalen Littleton, 19, returned to the car after golfing.

Officers took Littleton into custody for unlawful possession of the firearm, according to police records, and he has since pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Naperville Police Chief Jason Arres says the Topgolf parking lot has become an unexpected priority for his department.

"We're up there proactively policing," Arres told the I-Team. "The majority of these now are foot patrols in the lot, where we see guns, and or drugs in plain view in the vehicle, which automatically is going to lead to us setting up on and conducting surveillance, and then following up."

One follow-up turned potentially dangerous for officers in the lot last fall.

When a license plate reader alerted officers to a stolen SUV parked at Topgolf on Oct. 11, officers waited outside for the car's occupants to finish hitting a few balls inside and return to their vehicle.

In surveillance footage obtained by the I-Team, two men can be seen exiting Topgolf and getting into the vehicle.

After starting the engine, Naperville police pulled behind the car with their lights on.

The car's passenger can be seen in the video pretending to get out of the car, then getting back inside as the stolen car reverses into officers, then sped forward, clipping a parked car before leaving the lot.

After a short pursuit, one of the suspects got away, while another was taken into custody. Inside the stolen vehicle, Naperville police reported finding fentanyl, cocaine and a drug scale.

It's unclear whether criminal charges were filed in the case as it's still under investigation.

Police Chief Arres said Naperville's "strategic response team" of officers patrol areas where crime data shows illegal activity taking place. Naperville's Topgolf parking lot is on that list.

As for the reason behind why there's a surge in illegal activity in the parking lot, Arres wouldn't speculate.

"I'm not big on speculating, it's difficult to do that in this situation," Arres said. "There seems to be more guns in the area than we've seen in the past, just over my career and in the town in general."

Naperville isn't the only Topgolf facility in metro Chicago, there's also a Topgolf in Schaumburg, But police records obtained by the I-Team show no gun or drug arrests taking place there in the last year.

Topgolf declined the I-Team's request for an interview, and wouldn't answer questions about whether it has increased security measures inside the Naperville facility.

In a written statement, the company pointed out that the arrests since last summer have only taken place in the parking lot, not inside.

"The arrests that have occurred in our parking lot are unrelated to Topgolf, and no incidents related to these efforts have occurred within our venue," the company told the I-Team. "The safety of our Players and Playmakers has always been and will continue to be our number one priority."

Chief Arres told the I-Team Topgolf has assisted with their security efforts.

"We've asked [Topgolf] to increase lighting in the parking lot, to provide more patrols from their security side, and they've been on board," Arres said. "We're trying different things out. You know, they don't want this anymore than we want this in our town."

Arres added, "We have an excellent group of men and women that take their jobs very seriously, and proactively police our town. If somebody's going to bring guns to the Topgolf or anywhere else in Naperville, there's a strong probability we're going to catch them."