Lost Wallet Leads To Arrest In Vernon Hills Vehicle Burglaries

CHICAGO (CBS) — A lost wallet led to four arrests in a string of vehicle burglaries this month in north suburban Vernon Hills.

Between Feb. 14 and 15, eight vehicles were burglarized in the New Century Town subdivision, according to Vernon Hills police. The majority of the vehicles had been left unlocked, and one was inside a garage.

On Feb. 15, a resident reported that landscapers found a wallet in the area where the burglaries happened, police said. The contents of the wallet identified two people, 23-year-old Melanie N. Cobb of Mundelein, and 22-year-old James N. Knowles of Round Lake.

James N. Knowles (Credit: Vernon Hills police)

James N. Knowles (Credit: Vernon Hills police)

Cobb and Knowles were taken into custody Feb. 20 in Libertyville and had items taken in the Vernon Hills burglaries, police said.

Police obtained a search warrant for the Vernon Hills home of acquaintances of Cobb and Knowles, 31-year-old Mary J. Smaron and 29-year-old Michael Decker. Several items that had been taken in the robberies, including 14 credit cards and checkbooks, were found in the home.

Mary J. Smaron (Credit: Vernon Hills police)

Mary J. Smaron (Credit: Vernon Hills police)

“Our investigation was helped immensely by the citizen who reported the found wallet,” Chief of Police Mark Flesichhauer said in the statement. “It underscores the significance of immediately reporting things unusual or suspicious. Without that call, additional crimes may very well have occurred before the suspects were identified and apprehended.”

Michael Decker (Credit: Vernon Hills police)

Michael Decker (Credit: Vernon Hills police)

Smaron and Decker were charged with possession of stolen property, possession of a controlled substance, possession of another’s credits cards, and child endangerment, police said. There were each ordered held at the Lake County Jail on a $100,000 bonds.

Cobb and Knowles were each charged with possession of stolen property, police said. They were each ordered held on $75,000 bonds.

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