2 Rantoul men charged in theft of copper from former Chanute building

2 Rantoul men charged in theft of copper from former Chanute building

URBANA — Two Rantoul men who admitted hauling copper piping out of an abandoned building on the old Chanute Air Force Base have been charged with burglary.

State's Attorney Julia Rietz said Timothy Lowe, 26, and Michael Evans, 37, who listed the same address in the 1300 block of McCullough Street, were arrested early Saturday morning and appeared in arraignment court Monday.

Rietz said about 2:10 a.m. Saturday, a Rantoul police officer on patrol near the old base hospital in the 100 block of East Nightingale Court saw flashlights inside the building.

As he approached to investigate, he saw two men come out pushing shopping carts and stopped them to talk.

Lowe had a backpack that contained a saw blade, pliers, cutters and a headlamp, as well as a flashlight in his pocket. Both shopping carts were filled with copper pipes.

After waiving their right not to speak to police without an attorney present, Rietz said, the two admitted they went to the building to steal copper, which they could sell to a recycler for cash.

Rietz said the report said the village of Rantoul owns the building. The pair said another person had tipped them to the lucrative copper haul.

Other empty buildings on the base have been vandalized by copper scrappers over the years.

Both Lowe and Evans were released from jail after posting bond.

Rietz said Lowe has convictions from 2009 for theft, attempted robbery and burglary and is currently on parole for home invasion.

If convicted, he faces an extended prison term of three to 14 years but could receive probation.

Evans had prior convictions dating to 1998 for driving under the influence, driving under revocation and aggravated criminal sexual abuse, Rietz said. He currently has five pending criminal cases for driving under revocation, she said.

He faces penalties ranging from probation to three to seven years in prison.

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