ELMWOOD — Three Washington men arrested early Monday may have been responsible for hundreds of vehicle burglaries over the weekend in rural Peoria County towns.
Brian Bandeko, 22, 1405 Westminster Drive, Nathan Brunk, 22, 203 Wilshire Drive, and Nathaniel Ihnow, 22, 805 Spring St., were arrested at 4 a.m. after a resident heard her car alarm going off and called police.
A Peoria County sheriff's deputy on patrol in the area quickly located the three men, who are believed to have begun a burglary spree overnight Thursday in Dunlap.
"We're confident they would have continued on to one of the next small towns in Peoria County had they not been caught," said Capt. Dave Briggs.
Since Friday morning, the Peoria County Sheriff's Department has fielded dozens of vehicle burglary reports in Dunlap, Brimfield and Kickapoo from residents who had left their cars unlocked.
The men apparently only took loose change or whatever cash they could quickly find in as many unlocked cars as they encountered. It was not immediately clear how much money they were able to steal.
Two of the three men spoke with detectives after they were apprehended and admitted to entering up to 150 vehicles. The men told police they were using the stolen money to buy heroin.
Authorities in Woodford County were scheduled to interview the men about a similar string of vehicle burglaries in that jurisdiction, though the men only had been booked into the Peoria County Jail on local charges of 20 counts of vehicle burglary apiece by later Monday.
A majority of reports taken by deputies indicated residents found their cars had been searched but nothing appeared to have been taken. Briggs said the men may have illegally entered even more vehicles but owners never realized it the next day.
The men had not yet appeared before a judge to have bond set by Monday afternoon and remained in custody at the jail.