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Friday, August 28, 2009


Man Steals Car Shows Up At Police Department

Man could be East Peoria's 'dumbest criminal

After allegedly trying to steal car, suspect shows up at police department

Leslie Williams

Journal Star
Aug 27, 2009  07:49 PM
Last update Aug 27, 2009  10:10 PM

Billy J. Robinson might be the worst thief East Peoria police have ever seen.

"I've seen some bizarre and dumb actions on the part of suspects, but this ranks up there as one of the finest examples of a dumb suspect I've encountered," Police Chief Ed Papis, whose law enforcement career spans 34 years, said Thursday.

It all started about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday in the parking lot of Lowe's at Riverside Center. Robinson allegedly was trying to steal a car.

He had gotten so far as to peel the Buick Park Avenue's steering wheel column back when the car's owner interrupted him. The victim, an East Peoria woman, confronted Robinson, who, according to police, said he was "trying to start the car."

The woman then gave the would-be thief the bad news: The car was hers, and she had called police. She then told him to get out of the car and follow her, police said.

"Believe it or not, he started to follow her, but had a change of heart," Papis said. "He ran toward the expressway, jumped the fence behind Fashion Bug and was out of sight."

For almost an hour, a swarm of police, including Fondulac Park District officers and an Illinois State Police dog unit, combed East Peoria's riverfront for Robinson. With help from the victim, police knew who to look for: A black man in his 20s, of average height and weight, wearing a red, white and black jersey, black gloves and jeans.

Even with the great physical and clothing descriptions given to police, officers were unsuccessful in finding him.

But it wasn't Robinson's clothes that eventually helped police nab him. It was the large, abnormal growth hanging from his left ear lobe and patch of black hair on his chin.

After the search for Robinson concluded, Papis returned to the police department to finish paperwork. Not long after he sat down, he heard the dispatcher across the radio call several officers to the lobby of the police station.

To Papis' surprise, Robinson showed up at the police station lobby with a story how he needed money for a bus ticket to Bloomington. He had changed out of his clothes and was wearing a white polo shirt and tan shorts.

"The dispatcher recognized from the descriptors that this may be the suspect we were looking for," said Papis, adding the walnut-size mass on his ear was the tip-off. "I went out to the lobby, recognized that this individual was possibly our suspect and invited him into my office."

With him, Robinson carried two bags, clutched in his hands, into the chief's office.

It was after officers arrived, and as they emptied the contents of the bags, that what the dispatcher and Papis had suspected about the man turned out to be true.

"In his bags was the wet jersey, wet tennis shoes, the blue jeans, gloves, two screwdrivers, one needle-nose pliers and pen light," said Papis, noting the clothes were damp from sweat.

Also found were four pieces of computer paper, detailing step-by-step instructions of three different ways to break into and hot-wire a car.

Stated boldly across one of the papers was the recommendation, "Try this at night." It was advice Robinson didn't follow and Papis didn't let him forget.

"I chided him," said the chief. "I told him he didn't follow the instructions correctly. If he had, he might not have been seen and got away. Technically, he did get away, but if he had done it at night we may not have had all these descriptors and a witness."

Robinson, 20, of St. Louis was arrested on charges of attempted vehicle theft, criminal damage to property and criminal trespass to vehicle. He was taken to the Tazewell County Jail, where he was released without bond but ordered to be in court Sept. 17.

While criminals get caught every day, this arrest, Papis said, was one for the record books.

"The dispatchers and the officers had quite a few good laughs over the scenario," Papis said. "This has to rate as a segment (on the TV series) 'America's Dumbest Criminals.'"



Billy Robinson



                                                            Billy Robinson

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