OPS solves “Western _ _ _inois Universi_y” puzzle

Officers s -T – I – L – L trying to stop campus vandalism

In the middle of August, nonstudents Jacob E. Trotter, Jacob C. Robbins and Jackson McNamara of the Winnebago County area were arrested for theft and destruction of property.

Shannon Norris

After the coordinated efforts of the McDonough and Winnebago county law enforcement officers and various tips from Macomb locals, the culprits who stole the Western Illinois University sign off of Layfayette Street and University Drive have been arrested.

Three nonstudents, Jacob E. Trotter, 20, Jacob C. Robbins, 20, both from Machesney Park, and Jackson McNamara, 21, of Rockford were arrested Friday, Aug. 12 for theft of government property and criminal damage to government property.

“The crime that was committed was theft of state-supported property and criminal damage,” said Scott D. Harris, director of the Office of Public Safety (OPS), in regards to the case.

“Those letters are valued to about $3,000. That makes it a felony.”

In the state of Illinois theft valued over $300 is considered a felony. According to Harris the people who were arrested will each be facing felony charges.

“Class 4 felony is punishable by one to three years in prison and I believe those were a Class 3 which is two to five (years),” Harris said. “That doesn’t mean that they are going to get that. First off, we have to prove (that they did it.) There may be some extenuating circumstances on why they did it.”

OPS has been able to solve two of the three stolen letter cases, with yesterday afternoon marking the second time officials were able to recover the letters. Expected cost to place the letters back onto the sign have yet to be release. Harris also discussed how community policing has played not only a major role in solving the stolen letters crime, but also crime throughout the community in Macomb.

“If society just relies on the police to solve all their problems, they’re not going to get it solved because when you look at it there’s only 24 OPS officers and we’re policing a campus of 10,000 people,” Harris said. “Look at all those eyes out there — those eyes and those ears. Every leatherneck past and present should be offended that somebody (stole) their property, somebody took their identity and that’s where we appeal to our community to help us and we did get a Crime Stoppers tip.”

Harris went on to say that most people, when they hear or see a crime committed, feel that their tip is not good enough to share or that they are misreading the situation, but he says that’s not the case in his eyes.

“Citizens, when they hear about a crime they think, ‘Well I didn’t really see a whole lot,’ (and) don’t want to call us,” Harris said. “Sometimes your little tidbit of information is enough to get us going in the right direction and that’s what happened. That was not a major piece of information, but we’re glad that somebody called with that Crime Stoppers tip because that gave us the right direction to go, and we were able to then talk with somebody else and gather some names and then we ended up getting some arrest warrants for three individuals.”

With help from the Winnebago County officers, OPS was able to locate the three alleged suspects.

“We’re unfamiliar with the area and the people up there were familiar with some of the names and we were able to make an arrest while the officers were there,” Harris said. “One (of the suspects) voluntary turned himself in after he found out we were looking for him and then later on the other two were later picked up that Friday.”

Harris plans to further strengthen the OPS presence within the community by hosting the recurring Coffee with a Cop Tuesday Sept. 6 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in the North Quad and OPS will also be doing their Public Safety Day Expo Sept. 9 with more details to come later.