Authorities say they've broken up a burglary ring led by three Elk Grove Village residents now accused of stealing tens of thousands of dollars of property during more than 60 break-ins in Mount Prospect and other parts of the Northwest suburbs, North Shore and Lake County.
Police have been investigating the burglaries, many of them to unlocked vehicles and homes undergoing renovations, since 2012 and investigators noticed some of the stolen items on pawnshop receipts about a month ago.
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Detectives conducted surveillance on three possible suspects connected to the burglaries for the past four weeks and on Wednesday investigators spotted Ryan J Bloom, 22, and Richard J. McCann, 34, get out of the vehicle near their shared residence on the 400 block of Perry Drive. Police said the men immediately dropped bags containing suspected narcotics and drug paraphernalia when officers approached them, and the detectives took them into custody.
Bloom, McCann and 34-year-old Lizette M. Norman, who lived with the men at the residence, were charged with burglary, unlawful possession of a controlled substance and other offenses connected to home, vehicle and construction site burglaries, according to police.
"We have drills here worth $1,200," said Mount Prospect Police Deputy Chief Tim Janowick. "We are talking tens of thousands of dollars' worth of merchandise."
Police said the suspects lived together and ran a burglary ring, which consisted of quickly selling the stolen goods either on the street or to pawn or resale shops for cash in order to fund drug habits. Janowick said a new service that allows police departments to view pawn shops receipts online helped investigators track the suspects.
"It cuts down on some of the footwork. Usually, the detectives would have to go out and hoof it from one place to the next," He said. "Now it's a mouse click from one place to the next."
Investigators obtained consent to search the suspects' residence after arresting them in front of their home Wednesday and found hundreds of items matching the description of belongings reported stolen from Mount Prospect and several other suburbs. Recovered items included numerous hand tools, power tools, power washers, GPS devices, vacuum cleaners and sporting goods.
"We are ecstatic," Janowick said. "It was good detective work."
Once their investigation is complete Mount Prospect police said they expect to link the suspects to nearly two dozen burglaries, while neighboring departments could connect the suspects to close to that number.
Police said about 60 percent of the burglaries to automobiles in Mount Prospect that are believed to be connected to the ring were to unlocked cars. A number of the burglaries were also to unlocked and open garages as well as to valuables left in the view of any person walking by, according to police.
The burglaries to residences were timed to occur when residents were away, and no victims were home during any of the burglaries.
McCann, who was on parole, is charged with three counts of burglary, two counts of unlawful possession of a controlled substance.
Bloom is charged with three counts of burglary and one count of unlawful possession of a controlled substance. Norman is charged with three counts of burglary and also was wanted on a felony warrant issued by the Lake County sheriff's office.
Bloom and Norman appeared Saturday at the Cook County courthouse in Chicago, where their bails were set at $80,000 and $75,000 respectively.
McCann appeared in court Sunday, when his bail was set at $150,000. The Illinois Department of Corrections also has placed a detainer on him.
All three are scheduled to be back in court Tuesday and additional charges are possible, police said.
"Investigators will continue attempting to identify the rightful property owners of the hundreds of stolen items recovered as a result of this investigation," Janowick said.
Mount Prospect police remind everyone to ensure their residences are properly secured upon leaving for any period of time and to lock garages when not in use.