Man could be East Peoria's 'dumbest criminal
After allegedly trying to steal car, suspect shows up at police department
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.'"
June 2021 May 2021 April 2021 March 2021 February 2021 January 2021 December 2020 November 2020 October 2020 September 2020 August 2020 July 2020 June 2020 May 2020 April 2020 March 2020 February 2020 January 2020 December 2019 November 2019 October 2019 September 2019 August 2019 July 2019 June 2019 May 2019 April 2019 March 2019 February 2019 January 2019 December 2018 November 2018 October 2018 September 2018 August 2018 July 2018 June 2018 May 2018 April 2018 March 2018 February 2018 January 2018 December 2017 November 2017 October 2017 September 2017 August 2017 July 2017 June 2017 May 2017 April 2017 March 2017 February 2017 January 2017 December 2016 November 2016 October 2016 September 2016 August 2016 July 2016 June 2016 May 2016 April 2016 March 2016 February 2016 January 2016 December 2015 November 2015 October 2015 September 2015 August 2015 July 2015 June 2015 May 2015 April 2015 March 2015 February 2015 January 2015 December 2014 November 2014 October 2014 September 2014 August 2014 July 2014 June 2014 May 2014 April 2014 March 2014 February 2014 January 2014 December 2013 November 2013 October 2013 September 2013 August 2013 July 2013 June 2013 May 2013 April 2013 March 2013 February 2013 January 2013 December 2012 November 2012 October 2012 September 2012 August 2012 July 2012 June 2012 May 2012 April 2012 March 2012 February 2012 January 2012 December 2011 November 2011 October 2011 September 2011 August 2011 July 2011 June 2011 May 2011 April 2011 March 2011 February 2011 January 2011 December 2010 November 2010 October 2010 September 2010 August 2010 July 2010 June 2010 May 2010 April 2010 March 2010 February 2010 January 2010 December 2009 November 2009 October 2009 September 2009 August 2009 July 2009 June 2009 May 2009 April 2009 March 2009 February 2009 January 2009 December 2008