Police May Have Serial Car Burglar

Justin Cookson under investigation for as many as 50 break-ins

Monday, Oct 19, 2009  |  Updated 6:35 PM CDT
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A Mount Prospect man already charged with breaking into four cars in the northwest suburbs is now under investigation for as many as 50 more.

Justin Cookson, 26, is free on $10,000 bond after being charged with four counts of burglary while police continue to say other charges are possible in relations to other break-ins that match methods Cookson admitted using, a release from the Cook County Sheriff's office said.

He was arrested earlier this month and an investigation by sheriff’s police has linked him to vehicle break-ins in Mount Prospect, Rolling Meadows, Des Plaines, Bloomingdale and unincorporated Cook County, the release said.

The investigation began Oct. 7 when Des Plaines police questioned Cookson, who was acting suspiciously while riding a bicycle in an area that had recently been hit by car burglaries.

Cookson was searched and found to have several electronic devices on him, including a GPS device and iPods, as well as jewelry.  Police also found a folding knife and several drill bits.

Cookson admitted breaking into some cars, including that same day in unincorporated Cook County.

Sheriff's detectives began an investigation and learned Cookson started breaking into cars in May after losing his job, and spent the summer burglarizing dozens of vehicles, the release said. He targeted cars left unlocked, but would sometimes smash the passenger-side window if he noticed signs of expensive items inside.

Cookson told detectives he would look for suction cups on the dash board or front window as a sign of a GPS device, or look for power cords for cell phones or adapter cords for MP3 players. If he saw those items, he would break into the car and search it, the release said.

Detectives realized there had been 10 vehicle break-ins in unincorporated Cook County within the last two weeks that matched the method Cookson used, and also noted several other break-ins in nearby areas.

Detectives began questioning Cookson about the other break-ins and were able to get him to admit to several, the release said. However, he said he had taken all of the stolen merchandise to area pawn shops.

So far, two pending break-ins have been solved in Bloomingdale.

Cookson is expected to appear for a preliminary hearing on Nov. 6 in Skokie.

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