East St. Louis man charged with two parking lot robberies

An East St. Louis man has been arrested for allegedly attempting to coerce shoppers at the Collinsville Crossing shopping center into giving him money on the pretext that he needed help with a disabled automobile.

In the first incident, police have accused the man of approaching a customer as he left a store on January 6 and asking him “Are you racist?” Receiving a negative answer, the suspect then told the shopper that his car was parked at a nearby gas station because it had failed to start. The shopper allowed the man to enter his car and began driving toward the gas station. According to police, the suspect somehow persuaded the driver to head for a tow yard in East St. Louis. Once reaching the tow yard, the suspect coerced the driver into withdrawing money from an ATM on the premises. The driver told police that he expected to be reimbursed, but, instead, the suspect got into another car and left the scene.

On January 19, police were called to the Collinsville Crossing Center in response to reports that the suspect had returned and was attempting to rob another customer. Police stopped a silver van and found the man in the passenger seat. He had allegedly made the same request for assistance with a disabled vehicle. Police arrested the man and charged him with second-offense theft, a Class 4 felony. The suspect remains in custody at the Madison County jail while police search for other people whom the suspect may have approached in the same manner.

The suspect in this case is entitled to be presumed innocent until he has been proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Anyone facing similar charges is entitled to the same presumption, but a conference with an experienced criminal defense attorney may provide a helpful evaluation of the evidence and law that will determine the outcome of the case.

Source: Belleville News-Democrat, “Police believe man was scamming, harassing people into giving him money at Walmart,” Elizabeth Donald, Jan. 24, 2018