A serial criminal who police say should never have bonded out jail did so, and he now stands accused of stealing a van with three little boys inside.
In the past few years police say Sandy Ely, nicknamed Rump Rump, has managed to bond out on not one but eight charges ranging from residential burglary to robbery in Cook County, Ill., and Lake County, Ind.
"I think it’s horrendous. I think it’s a tremendous black eye to the criminal justice system," said Capt. Deborah Simental of the Illinois State Police.
Mike Kickert said his home installed security cameras caught Ely in the home of his mother-in-law back in June 2011. Police say Ely and an accomplice posed as power company workers. The video showed the men rifling through a strong box, a purse, a jewelry container and wiping finger prints on the way out the front door.
The victim was 89-year-old Lottie Nova Rita, now in a nursing home. Like many elderly victims, her eyesight is poor and she couldn’t endure cross examination.
"I thought this was a slam dunk. The prosecutors say most likely this will be dropped because she can’t testify and the video can’t stand on its own," said Kickert.
Despite four felony convictions in Illinois alone for everything from residential burglary and aggravated battery, police say this career criminal manages to dodge justice again and again.
Ely’s crime spree may have continued in Chicago just this month. Police say Ely recently stole a minivan with three boys strapped in the backseat while frantic parents scrambled nearby. Ely elbowed the father in the face and crashed the van as he sped away, authorities said. The boys managed to get out in time.
Police say they found the stolen van and their investigation led to Sandy Ely, a man they know well. Officers say they hope this arrest is the last for him.
Ely was in custody Friday night, charged with aggravated vehicular hijacking, a Class X felony that carries a sentence up to 30 years. Police are asking for no bond.
"He needs to get locked up and not let out for a very long time," Simental.