A little surveillance work paid off in spades Monday night when police were able to bust two Joliet men on robbery, burglary and stolen property charges.
Brian D. Pickering, 28, of 723 John St., and Christopher A. Schmidt, 30, of 418 O'Neil St., were already suspects in a Dec. 22 robbery of an 86-year-old woman when Joliet police officers Ed Johnson and Sherrie Blackburn were assigned to watch their activities Monday night.
Within minutes, they witnessed the pair putting stolen license plates on their car while it was parked in the 700 block of John Street, Cmdr. Rich Demick said Tuesday.
After following the men for about 40 minutes, the officers stopped them at Raynor and Buell avenues and arrested Schmidt on a charge of unlawful possession of license plates, Demick said. Inside the vehicle, they found a 19-inch television that had been reported stolen in a Will County burglary, and discovered Pickering had hypodermic needles in his pocket, he said.
During questioning at the police station, the pair admitted to Detective Carlos Matlock and Officer Mike Reilly that they committed the Dec. 22 robbery as well as burglaries to Joliet homes in the 1000 block of Barthelme Avenue and the 1600 block of Jones Street in the Marquette Gardens area, Demick said.
They're also suspects in at least four other home break-ins in Will County, sheriff's department spokeswoman Kathy Hoffmeyer said.
Those burglaries were on Barber Lane, Murphy Lane and Rosary Drive, all located in unincorporated section of Joliet bordered by Infantry Drive, Essington Road, Black Road and Ingalls Avenue, and on McCameron Avenue in Lockport, she said.
In the robbery, Schmidt is accused of pushing an 86-year-old woman to the ground in the Jewel store parking lot at Larkin Avenue and Theodore Street in order to steal her purse, Demick said. Pickering served as the getaway driver, he said.
The woman cut her finger and was treated at the scene by Joliet Fire Department personnel, he said.
Demick credited the Joliet City Council's decision to restore funding for the Neighborhood-Oriented Policing Team with giving the police department the means through which to investigate Schmidt and Pickering's activities. Without it, Blackburn and Johnson would have been doing patrol rounds rather than surveillance, he said.
As for Schmidt and Pickering, they each face one count of robbery, one count of possession of stolen property and two counts of residential burgary. Schmidt was also charged with aggravated battery and unlawful possession of license plates and Pickering with possession of hypodermic needles/syringes.
Both men are being held in the Will County jail.