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Monday, October 19, 2009 — A Mount Prospect man, already charged with breaking into four vehicles in the northwest suburbs, is now under investigation for as many as 50 more, Sheriff Tom Dart said.

Justin Cookson, 26, was arrested earlier this month and a subsequent investigation by the Cook County Sheriff’s Police Department has linked him to other vehicle break-ins in Mount Prospect, Rolling Meadows, Des Plaines, Bloomingdale and unincorporated Cook County.

The investigation began Oct. 7 when Des Plaines police questioned a man who was acting suspiciously while riding a bicycle in an area that had been recently hit by several car burglaries. Justin Cookson, 26, was frisked and found to have several electronic devices on him, including a GPS device and i-Pods, as well as jewelry. In a backpack, Cookson was carrying a folding knife and several drill bits. Cookson admitted to breaking into some cars, including break-ins that day in unincorporated Cook County, the proceeds of which he was carrying. Des Plaines police then contacted the sheriff’s police.

Cook County Sheriff’s Police Detectives Frank Medrys and Victor Van Horn then began an investigation into those burglaries, as well as other recent complaints of car break-ins in the northwest suburbs. Cookson told the detectives he began breaking into cars in May, after losing his job, and spent the summer burglarizing dozens of vehicles. He targeted cars that were left unlocked, but would smash the passenger side window if he noticed signs of expensive items possibly inside.
Cookson said he would look for suction cups left on the dash board or front window as a sign of a GPS device, or he would look for power cords for cell phones or adapter cords for MP3 players. If he saw those items, he would break into the vehicle and begin searching for the devices.

Detectives noted that in the last two weeks there had been 10 vehicle break-ins in unincorporated Cook County that matched that method and also noted several more in other villages. Detectives began questioning Cookson about those break-ins. He admitted to several, but said he had taken all of the merchandise he had stolen to area pawn shops.

Sheriff’s police have contacted departments in the northwest suburbs and, so far, two pending vehicle break-in cases has been solved in Bloomingdale. Cookson is charged with four counts of burglary, but police are continuing to investigate other possible charges related to other break-ins. He is free on $10,000 bond. His next court date is set for Nov. 6 in Skokie.

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