Officials investigate burglaries, pipe bombs

POTOMAC — The Vermilion County sheriff's office is investigating a series of burglaries in Vermilion, Iroquois and Ford counties after confiscating stolen property and three homemade pipe bombs earlier this week from a rural residence north of Potomac.

According to Vermilion County Sheriff Pat Hartshorn, deputies have been investigating a series of burglaries that happened over several days in the north end of rural Vermilion County. On Wednesday, investigators got a lead on the possible location of some of the stolen property.

When officers got to that rural residence north of Potomac, Hartshorn said, they found Blake Moore, a 20-year-old convicted felon who listed an address in Rossville, at a storage building. Hartshorn said Moore was in possession of firearms, which is illegal for a convicted felon. Deputies arrested him and began a search of the storage building.

Investigators found stolen property from the Vermilion County burglaries and property connected to burglaries in Iroquois and Ford counties as well as three homemade pipe bombs, according to Hartshorn. Most of the stolen property, Hartshorn said, was composed of tools and copper wiring.

The University of Illinois Police Department's bomb team was called in to dispose of the bombs. Hartshorn said officials don't know yet why there were pipe bombs.

He said the investigation is continuing, and they are searching for other suspects.

He said the rural Potomac residence did not belong to Moore, and the residents of that property are not suspects.

"They have cooperated fully with the police," Hartshorn said.

Moore was arraigned Thursday in Vermilion County Circuit Court on charges of unlawful possession of weapons by a felon and theft over $500/possession of stolen property. His bond was set at $75,000, and he is being held at the Vermilion County Jail. Moore was arrested and charged in July with theft over $500/possession of stolen property. Moore had posted bond in that case and was released from jail. His jury trial in that case is set for Feb. 6.

Hartshorn said police do not yet know whether this case is connected to a recent theft of copper wire in Paxton.

In early December, two people were caught on surveillance cameras stealing thousands of dollars' worth of copper in the middle of the night from a warehouse at Eastern Illini Electric Cooperative in Paxton, according to police.

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