The Urbana Police Division continues to investigate numerous theft-related crimes that occurred during the overnight hours of Dec. 2 and that involve at least three suspects from Columbus.
According to Urbana Police Chief Matt Lingrell, at 2:18 a.m. on that date, a citizen flagged down Officer Casey Evans to report having seen three subjects acting suspiciously near a parked car in the 600 block of East Ward Street.
Evans and other officers went into that area to attempt to locate the individuals. As officers arrived in the area, three subjects dressed in dark clothing ran from officers, one southbound and two went northbound through yards.
At 2:30 a.m., Sgt. Josh Jacobs captured Joseph Holbrooks, 21, of Columbus, in an alley near East Lawn Avenue between Court and Church streets.
Lingrell stated Holbrooks had items stolen from vehicles during the night. At about the same time, Officer Robbie Evans began chasing one of the suspects, who took off running from him near East Elementary School on Washington Avenue.
Shortly thereafter and nearby, a 1997 Ford F-150 was stolen from the back yard of 553 East Lawn Ave. This vehicle was recovered by police later in the overnight, parked near 432 E. Ward St., while police were there investigating a home burglary that had just recently occurred while the family was asleep inside.
Police found that in addition to car keys, a wallet and purse, cash coins, credit and identification cards stolen from inside 432 E. Ward St., a 2015 Dodge van that had been parked outside had been stolen. Police later recovered this stolen van parked in a private driveway in the 900 block of Miami Street.
Around 11:23 a.m., police took a report of another stolen vehicle from the area nearby to where the stolen van had been abandoned earlier. Stolen from 225 Sara Street was a 2002 Pontiac Grand Am GT, taken between 7 a.m. and 11 a.m. This vehicle was later recovered abandoned in Franklin County.
Lingrell stated police believe they have identified the other two suspects, an adult and a juvenile, who remain at large and are working with Columbus police to locate and interview them.
Throughout the night and during most of the day on Dec. 2, police responded to multiple reports of cars being rummaged through and items taken including loose coins, backpacks, electronic gadgets, credit and identification cards, jewelry, satchels, and cell phones.
Lingrell stated these incidents covered several neighborhoods within the city and officers processed multiple theft scenes collecting various items of evidence and some stolen property.
Police have returned some of the recovered stolen property to the owners but still have some recovered items that have not been associated with a victim yet.
According to the Champaign County Municipal Court’s website, Holbrooks pleaded guilty to theft, receiving stolen property, obstructing official business and possessing criminal tools on Monday. He was ordered to serve 79 days in the Tri-County Regional Jail and pay a total fine of $1,011.
Lingrell stated police will continue to work on locating the other two individuals suspected to be involved in these crimes and additional criminal charges may be filed as the investigations proceed.
Nick Walton can be reached at 937-652-1331 Ext. 1777 or on Twitter @UDCWalton.