Local authorities have apprehended multiple suspects believed to be connected to the string of burglaries to vehicles and thefts of vehicles that struck Jacksonville over several months this summer.
The Jacksonville Police Department, working with South Jacksonville Police, Morgan County Deputies, and the State’s Attorney’s office, have arrested nine suspects believed to be involved in the alleged incidents. Those arrested were Katrina Wallace and Emen Essien, both aged 18, as well as two 17-year old males, four 16-year old males and one 16-year old female. According to Jacksonville Police Lieutenant Doug Thompson, it’s believed that all nine suspects are from Springfield.
With the suspects now in custody, Thompson explains how the local agencies went about their months-long investigation.
“When we first started getting all of the reports of burglaries to motor vehicles and the car thefts, we started trying to determine if there was a specific location that these were occurring at, and then from there with, obviously some of the crimes occurring in South Jacksonville and out in the county, we started working with their investigators as well putting together some possible suspects. As the suspects were evolving by catching a couple here and there, we were able to start piecing it together,” explains Thompson.
Lieutenant Thompson says authorities utilized a number of resources to try and locate potential suspects.
“We were using Facebook, Snapchat, other tools or social media that we were able to start tracking people, find out where they were at. From there we were able to start identifying the individuals involved and whenever we would find out they were in town we would start trying to track them down. We were able to catch a couple people in vehicles, so once we started catching them in vehicles and getting them to cooperate with us, we were able to identify the rest of the people involved. At that time, we worked with the State’s Attorney’s office to obtain arrest warrants for them and started picking them up one by one when we found them,” says Thompson.
Thompson believes that all of the vehicle that were stolen have been recovered. He also says that the crimes were very random in nature, with no specific areas or types of vehicles being targeted.
According to police, several cases remain open at this time, as evidence is still being processed by the Illinois State Police Crime Lab. Thompson explains that, depending on what evidence is found, there could potentially be more arrests, or additional charges added to the suspects already in custody.