One man was charged Thursday with stealing valuable vehicle rims in Pekin, as police probe similar cases from Peoria to southern Illinois and Missouri.
Brian Mims’ alleged accomplice, meanwhile, remained sought two days after he likely jumped into a small North Pekin lake after leaving his shoes on shore.
Mims, 56, of Potosi, Mo., was ordered held on $40,000 bond on charges of possessing a stolen vehicle and theft of $28,000 worth of rims from the Ray Dennison Chevrolet dealership lot at 2320 N. Eighth St.
The rims were found in a white box van, reported stolen last week from a dealership in St. Charles, Mo. Thieves used a van of the same description in “a number of recent thefts of tires and rims” from dealerships in the Pekin area, according to a prosecutor’s court affidavit.
Electrical wires in a light pole on the Dennison lot also were cut in the same fashion as in recent thefts at dealerships in North Pekin and Peoria, the affidavit stated.
Police in Quincy also confirmed they suspect connections between the Dennison theft case and a similar one in that city about two weeks ago.
“Without a doubt it’s being looked at,” said Detective Kevin Taute.
“I know there are other incidents in our area as well, leading back into last year,” Taute said. “There are more incidents in southern Missouri and southern Illinois” that his department is studying for possible connections.
New-model vehicle rims “come at a premium price,” said Taute, who declined to speculate on whether Mims and his accomplice might be part of a larger theft ring.
The van Mims and his accomplice allegedly used in the Dennison case contained 28 rims, each valued at $1,000, taken from seven vehicles before a witness interrupted the crime.
An employee arriving for work at 4 a.m. at a dealership adjacent to the Dennison lot saw two men crouching amid parked SUVs on that lot. Aware of the recent area thefts, he turned on his vehicle’s lights. The men jumped into their van and raced away, the affidavit stated.
The witness followed them north on Illinois Route 29 and east on Illinois Route 98 to Chateau Drive, where the men stopped in a parking lot and ran. He had alerted police, who arrived moments later.
Officers heard rustling in woods along a north Twin Lakes shore, then heard what sounded like someone diving into the lake. Moments later they spotted Mims hiding under a dock. He jumped into the water as police told him to surrender, the affidavit stated.
Mims swam out into the lake and, despite being told police had surrounded it, remained there for about 10 minutes before surrendering. He told police he was alone and refused further comment, the affidavit stated.
A police dog found a pair of men’s shoes along the shore, where footprints indicated someone had entered the water. Police used a drone and a hover craft to search the lake and shore Tuesday. They said they believe the man escaped from the area.
Mims is next due in court on July 27.
Follow Michael Smothers at Twitter.com/msmotherspekin