Harvey Cops Nab Robbers Who Targeted Tow Truck Drivers
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HARVEY, Ill. (CBS) – In south suburban Harvey, a sting by police has ended with a robbery suspect critically shot, and another taken into custody.
The two men are suspected in a string of tow truck robberies in Harvey and other south suburbs.
As CBS 2’s Roseanne Tellez reports, their scam worked like this: someone would call a tow truck company about a junk car they wanted to sell and, when the tow truck driver arrived, he or she would be robbed at gunpoint.
Police said the suspects’ scam was so lame they practically led police to their door.
One of the suspects, 18-year-old Michael Powe, was shot by police on Wednesday in the midst of a sting.
Family members said they were told Powe was shot three times in the chest, arm and spine and that he’ll never walk again.
His brother, Lyman Powe, said Michael Powe had just stepped out to run an errand when the family “got a call saying the police was chasing my little brother, trying to kill him.”
Michael Powe was shot in an alley way across the street from his house.
According to police, Powe had called a towing company to come and see about a junk car. Two Harvey police officers responded instead, posing as tow truck drivers.
“We entered the alley – a detective and myself – in a tow truck. Two gentlemen approached. One of them brandished a weapon. My detective discharged his, striking the offender one time,” said Harvey Police Cmdr. Cameron Forbes.
Forbes said both officers then chased down a second suspect and took him into custody.
Both suspects fit descriptions given by three recent victims, all of whom were called to the same address.
One of those victims, Charles Thomas, showed what happened after he was greeted by young man who told him he was going to get his dad.
“While I was looking, the other suspect, he hopped on the cab and he had a pistol to my head … and demanded my money,” Thomas said.
At a news conference Wednesday afternoon, police said they were confident they have the right men. In fact, they said a cell phone recovered at the scene was used to place all three calls.
Area tow truck drivers were relieved upon learning of the arrests.
“I feel a lot better,” Thomas said. “It’s me and other guys that do the same thing. You know, this is our livelihood. This is what we do.”
Police said the robbers called phone numbers for what they thought were different towing companies and told trucks to come to the same address, using the same phone each time they called. Police said they have recovered the cell phone used in all the robberies, as well as weapons that matched descriptions provided by the victims.
It sounds like the most the thieves would get from a robbery was about $500.
Meantime, the Illinois State Police’s Public Integrity Unit was investigating the shooting by Harvey police officers.