URBANA, Illinois – Strong investigative work resulted in two unrelated arrests for burglary and identity theft over the Halloween weekend.
The first arrest on Saturday brought closure to a series of burglaries to motor vehicles parked near State Farm Center spanning the last three years. On multiple occasions since 2018, University Police would receive one or more reports of burglary immediately following a concert or athletic event near State Farm Center.
In several of those cases, visitors reported that credit or debit cards were stolen from their vehicles and then later used without permission. The total value of stolen property was well into the thousands of dollars.
Over the years, University Police investigators used security cameras and other techniques to develop a suspect in those cases. On Saturday while the Fighting Illini football game was taking place at Memorial Stadium across the street, a University Police detective recognized that person entering multiple vehicles in the State Farm Center parking lot.
Felicia D. Jones, 39, of Indianapolis, was arrested at 12:35 p.m. Saturday in the State Farm Center parking lot, 1800 S. First St., Champaign, for burglary to a motor vehicle, credit card fraud and identity theft. When officers approached, Jones was seated in a vehicle that did not belong to her with another person’s purse in her lap.
In a separate and unrelated case, University Police on Sunday used a bicycle equipped with anti-theft technology to catch a man who was in possession of multiple articles of stolen property.
University Police received notification that the bicycle had been stolen from the Coordinated Science Laboratory, 1308 W. Main St., Urbana. They located the bicycle and its rider, Jeremy W. Hartman, 44, of Urbana, leaving the area. In addition to the stolen bicycle, Hartman was in possession of several electronic items and tools, like wire cutters and wrenches, suspected to have been used in other thefts and burglaries.
Hartman was arrested at 5:44 p.m. Sunday near Goodwin Avenue and Main Street, Urbana, for theft, possession of burglary tools and possession of stolen property.
While police were processing the arrest, police were approached by a man who said his backpack and mobile phone had just been stolen, and the phone was tracking to that location. The man recognized his backpack as one of the items police had seized from Hartman.
Additionally, police found more than a dozen credit cards, debit cards, gift cards and other financial documents belonging to at least four different individuals.
Theft and property crime is the most common crime on college campuses everywhere, and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is no exception. In a normal year, University Police receive between 230 to 270 reports of theft, with the value of stolen property into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.