URBANA — A combination of information from observant citizens and good police work has resulted in criminal charges against a man believed responsible for five residential burglaries in southern Champaign County.
Champaign County sheriff's Lt. Curt Apperson said Richard Schindler, 35, of Bourbonnais was arrested Monday in Jasper County on a warrant issued earlier this month charging him with four counts of residential burglary and one of burglary.
The charges stem from five daylight break-ins at homes in the country around Sadorus, Tolono, Pesotum and Philo between Feb. 4 and 18.
"We noticed a spike in residential burglaries in Tolono Township and Philo," Apperson said, prompting deputies to contact residents in the affected area.
"One of the witnesses we interviewed during a canvass saw a black car that looked like an old police car," Apperson said.
Then, a deputy was contacted by a concerned citizen who had seen a car matching that description in The Oaks mobile home park in Tolono, Apperson said.
"We found the vehicle, identified the owner as Schindler, and started looking into him. He was on parole for residential burglary out of Kankakee County," said Apperson.
Apperson said he and fellow investigator Seth Herrig went to Tolono on Feb. 28 and interviewed Schindler, who was seeing a woman who lives in The Oaks mobile home park.
"He confessed to breaking into five residences in the Tolono area. We also recovered collectible coins," said Apperson, adding that cash was the only item taken in the burglaries.
Because the investigators conducted a noncustodial interview with Schindler on Feb. 28, they didn't arrest him that day.
"He was in contact with us from the time he was interviewed to March 4, then after that he was off our radar," said Apperson.
The warrant for Schindler's arrest was issued March 3. Judge John Kennedy set bond on the warrant at $150,000.
He called the identification of Schindler a "good team effort among citizens, patrol and investigations."
"I think we would have found him, but this definitely sped up the process of locating him," Apperson said of the tip about the car in The Oaks.
Residential burglary is a Class 1 felony carrying a mandatory prison term of between four and 15 years on conviction.
Apperson said he learned Tuesday from Jasper County officials that Schindler was arrested Monday after a part-time deputy spotted him trying to pull his vehicle out of a ditch with an all-terrain vehicle that belonged to the deputy’s neighbor.
“Apparently, he was driving down a country road and somehow got his vehicle stuck in a ditch. He walked to the nearest house, broke into the garage and stole an ATV equipped with a wench/tow package,” Apperson recounted.
“He drove the ATV to his vehicle and was attempting to pull his vehicle out when a part-time deputy who lives in the area came across him.”
Apperson said the deputy, knowing the ATV belonged to his neighbor, spoke with Schindler and got his name and date of birth then went home and contacted the sheriff’s office to have them run a check on Schindler. That’s when he discovered that Schindler was wanted on the outstanding Champaign County warrant. The deputy then went back and arrested him, Apperson said.
Schindler is currently in the Jasper County Jail in Newton awaiting charges there.
It’s unclear how soon he’ll be returned to Champaign County.