UI parking worker accused of stealing hundreds in meter money

UI parking worker accused of stealing hundreds in meter money

URBANA — A University of Illinois parking employee has been arrested for allegedly stealing hundreds of dollars in parking-meter money.

UI police Lt. Tom Geis said police got an anonymous tip a month ago that James D. Dorris, 63, of Champaign was allegedly engaged in suspicious activity related to his assignment of collecting cash from campus parking meters.

"He is the one that would dump the cash," Geis said, adding that investigators used "several different techniques" to develop information about Dorris' activity on the job.

By Thursday, they had enough information to conduct court-authorized searches of his home in the 400 block of East Hill Street and his car, which was on campus. Officers picked Dorris up at his job and searched his home while he remained at the police department.

"What we found at the house was probably several hundred dollars. It was stored in a 5-gallon Culligan water jug," Geis said.

Investigators have yet to tally the coins, but Geis said Dorris admitted that he was taking the money from meters on campus.

"We don't have an exact time frame, but it appears it's been going on for an extended period of time, at least a year," Geis said.

He said Dorris has been employed in the parking division for about four years.

The investigator declined to describe exactly how Dorris was able to defeat security mechanisms in place but said the UI's auditing office will be involved in reviewing procedures "to make sure that proper precautions are being taken to protect university assets."

On Friday, the state's attorney's office filed charges against Dorris of theft between $500 and $10,000 from a school, a Class 2 felony, and official misconduct, a Class 3 felony.