Earl I. Toomer (left) and Milo Simmons

With the arrests of two men in Riverside on July 20, Police Chief Thomas Weitzel said his officers had completed “the single largest arrest and closure of burglary cases in the history of the village of Riverside.”

Weitzel said that by arresting the two men, the department cleared 43 vehicle and garage burglary incidents in the village dating back to April and that Riverside police will seek for a grand jury to indict the two men, who were working independently of one another.

Police linked one of those arrested, Maywood resident Earl I. Toomer, 18, to 35 incidents, said Weitzel. Toomer was charged July 8 with possession of a stolen bicycle in North Riverside, and was out free on bond in that case.

Toomer was charged with six counts of felony burglary, battery to a police officer and resisting arrest after he reportedly fought with police, who led officers on a five minute foot chase through Riverside yards about 5 a.m. on July 20 in the vicinity of the 300 block of Longcommon Road.

Officers initially were called to the 300 block of Downing Road after a resident reported a suspicious person attempting to gain entry to his garage. Police found a suspect matching the description given by the 911 caller in some bushes in the 300 block of Eastgrove Road.

As police exited their vehicles to apprehend Toomer, he reportedly ran off, jumping fences and running through yards until he was caught in the backyard of a home in the 300 block of Longcommon Road.

Officers from Lyons, North Riverside and Stickney assisted Riverside police during the foot pursuit.

According to police, Toomer had $90 in cash and multiple GPS units on his person when he was apprehended.

Earlier that morning, about 12:15 a.m., a Riverside police officer pulled over a vehicle driven by a man who resembled a burglary suspect depicted in an internal police flier.

The driver, 42-year-old Milo Simmons, of Cicero, initially was detained for driving on a revoked license. Police also discovered numerous items of stolen property in the vehicle’s trunk, including power tools, bolt cutters, flashlights, binoculars and other mechanical equipment that had been reported stolen from Riverside garages in recent weeks.

A passenger in Simmons’ vehicle, also a 42-year-old Cicero man, was not charged by police.

Simmons, who has convictions for burglary and other offenses in Illinois and Florida dating back to 1990, was charged with possession of stolen property. He was also charged with felony driving while revoked; he also had been convicted previously of driving under the influence, according to police.

Weitzel said Simmons, a self-admitted street gang member, could be linked to eight Riverside burglaries. Weitzel also said he remembered personally arresting Simmons for burglary more than a decade ago in Riverside.

“He and another guy were working Fairbank Road,” said Weitzel of the previous arrest. “They would ring doorbells, and if no one answered they would break in.”

According to Weitzel, both Simmons and Toomer stated they had targeted Riverside because “they believed it was an easy target, as there were no street lights in its residential neighborhoods and many residents did not lock their garages and/or cars.”

Weitzel said the two admitted to committing burglaries almost nightly throughout the western suburbs since April.

As police identified a pattern in the incidents, said Weitzel, he shifted manpower from the day and afternoon shifts to the midnight shift to have more uniformed officers on the streets at that time and ordered the use of unmarked and bicycle units to aid in apprehending suspects.

Weitzel said it took so long to establish a pattern since many of the incidents, in which loose change and other small items were taken, went unreported. However, he also thanked residents who called police to report suspicious vehicles and people, which helped police establish patterns and suspects.

“I am also extremely gratified for the assistance given to us by Riverside residents who alertly called police when they saw something out of place,” Weitzel said.

Both Toomer and Simmons appeared in bond court Monday at the Maybrook courthouse. Toomer’s bond was set at $75,000, while Simmons’ bond was set at $40,000.

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