Two arrested in iPad theft at Illini Union
Two 18-year-olds have been arrested in connection with a string of iPad and cellphone thefts in the Campustown area over the last few weeks, police said Wednesday.
Video surveillance and Crimestopper tips led to the arrest Wednesday of Jacob Richter-Shea, 18, of the 800 block of West Clark Street in Champaign and Frederick Young, 18, of Sterling Court in Savoy, according to UI Police Sgt. Tom Geis.
UI police put out an alert earlier this week about two suspects involved in a brazen theft of an iPad at the Illini Union on Sunday right in front of the crime victim. Security cameras captured video of the suspects at various locations around the Illini Union before and after the incident.
The crime alert, which contained detailed descriptions and links to the video, led to several Crimestoppers tips, and police were able to identify the two men, Geis said.
"Once again, video has proved to be invaluable in solving these kinds of cases," Geis said.
Police obtained a search warrant and checked Young's Savoy apartment Tuesday but didn't find the two suspects or any stolen merchandise, Geis said. Detectives continued surveillance and returned to the apartment complex Wednesday, where they arrested Richter-Shea and Young as they were leaving, Geis said.
Both men were arrested for robbery and are scheduled to appear at an arraignment hearing Thursday afternoon, he said. They were being held in the Champaign County Jail on Wednesday evening.
Another woman in the car was arrested for driving while suspended, but it was unrelated to the recent thefts, Geis said.
Through interviews with the suspects, detectives found links to eight to 10 other thefts, burglaries or robberies in the Campustown area, including one at a Champaign apartment, Geis said.
Police have recovered some of the stolen cellphones through electronics resale shops in the community and are continuing to look for other merchandise that was taken, Geis said.
"They used so many different locations to sell it," he said.
Geis put the value of the stolen merchandise "in the thousands" but said police don't have a full picture yet.
University police are continuing to investigate in conjunction with the Champaign Police Department.
Most of the victims were UI students, but Young and Richter-Shea are not, Geis said.
In Sunday's theft at the Union, a man asked a woman sitting at a table for the time, and when she looked at her watch the man grabbed her iPad off the table and ran away, police said. He was seen on security cameras running out the southwest doors of the Union and placing the iPad in the backpack of a second suspect.
After the crime alert was posted, another woman recognized the two men as the same pair who had been talking to her around the time she realized her cellphone was missing, Geis said. Her phone had been in a slot in her backpack.
He advised students to "keep your property close to you, watch out for people who are suspicious, and if a situation doesn't feel right, get yourself out of there and call the police."