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Wife was heist getaway driver, Decatur police say

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DECATUR — Police said they chased down and caught a serial Decatur armed robber Sunday night whose wife acted as his getaway driver.

Written reports said Decatur police officers were responding at 10:16 p.m. to an armed robbery of the Thorntons gas station at 1707 E. Pershing Road when they got a break, thanks to a quick-thinking station customer.

“While officers were on route they received a call from a patron who advised he had been present when the robbery occurred and he was now following the suspect’s vehicle,” said Detective Sgt. Chris Copeland.

“He stayed on the phone until officers were able to catch up with the suspect’s vehicle.”

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The car, with the 48-year-old robber as a passenger and his 55-year-old wife driving, took off when police tried to pull it over. “A short pursuit ensued and ended at a residence in the 1700 block of East Olive Street,” added Copeland.

“The front seat passenger exited the vehicle and ran into a house and officers chased him inside and took him into custody without any incident.”

Copeland said police strongly suspect this is the same masked robber who held up the Circle K gas station convenience store, 501 North Main Street, just after midnight Sunday. Among evidence seized Sunday night was a BB handgun that looks like a firearm.

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A check of Macon County Circuit Court Records show the man pleaded guilty to seven charges of aggravated robbery and one count of robbery in 2010 and was sentenced to nine years in prison. Illinois Department of Corrections records show he was only released on parole May 5.

He is now being held in the Macon County Jail on preliminary charges of armed robbery, obstructing police and violation of parole. His wife was booked on a charge of armed robbery. No bond information was available for either suspect.

Copeland said detectives are still working the case and believe the man is the leading suspect in several other recent armed robberies in the Decatur area.

All preliminary charges are subject to review by the state attorney's office.  

Contact Tony Reid at (217) 421-7977. Follow him on Twitter: @TonyJReid


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