Trio arrested in Tri-County burglaries

Karen Danner
Lester Bricker

The Peoria County Sheriff’s Department is continuing investigation of numerous residential and business burglaries in Peoria County.

The burglaries came to an end when police arrested three suspects after an attempted burglary failed on Blue Ridge Road Friday.

Lester T. Bricker, 33, of 3126 Indiana St., Peoria; Justin H. Schnoor, 25, and Belinda D. Welch, 36, both of 1721 N. Logan St., are in Peoria County Jail.

Bricker’s bail is set at $100,00, Schnoor’s at $75,000 and Welch’s at $30,000.

The trio’s crime spree ended Friday with the arrests of Bricker and Schnoor after they were traced to the 21000 block of Blue Ridge Road.

Bricker and Schnoor were charged with at least 10 counts of residential burglary.

Welch was arrested later at the PCSD. She is charged with one count of residential burglary.

Further charges are pending as the investigation continues, said Capt. Dave Briggs, which will also include charges of business burglary.

The arrests brought an end to more than 10 residential burglary cases in Peoria County, with possible connections to other burglaries in Marshall, Tazewell and Woodford counties.

According to Briggs, officers followed the two men from Chillicothe to the Edelstein area and on to the North Peoria area.

Police had seized their vehicle, leaving the duo on foot.

The day’s events started when a resident on Blue Ridge Road allegedly found one of the accused attempting to break into the home.

A quick call to 911 alerted PCSD officers and the Chillicothe Police Department of the attempt.

CPD officers assisted in setting up perimeters at the scene and aiding the PCSD. Illinois

Conservation Police also assisted in searching for the suspects.

District 321 superintendent Dr. Dave Kinney said that about 30 district kindergarten-through-12th-grade students, as well as some students at St. Edward Catholic School, who lived in the vicinity of the attempted burglary were kept at their schools and were told about the situation.

The district called all parents involved, who came to get their children.

“We kept in close contact with the Chillicothe Police Department and the Peoria County Sheriff’s Department,” said Kinney.

“Because of the roadblock set up and the sweeping they were doing in that area, we felt it was best to hold any kids who lived in that area for safety reasons. The parents were wonderful.”

He added that communication among all the involved agencies went very smoothly.

“It’s the first week of school and all was going well until we got hit with such an unusual situation. But even this went very well.”

Kinney said all other buses transported students.

After about four hours, the two men were in custody.

“I’d like to thank all the citizens for being conscious of what was going on and helping us in the search of the area,” said Briggs. “It was damn good police work.”

Police recovered stolen property, amounting to close to three truckloads, Friday evening.

Burglaries were made on Blue Ridge Road as well as on Cedar Hills Drive, Parks School Road, Hicks Hollow Road, Centerville Road, Feucht Road, Sunny Lane, Old Galena Road and Krause Road.

Now that the crime spree has ended, detectives at the PCSD will catalogue and photograph all the recovered items, which ranged from ATVs to tools, etc.

According to a press release from Sheriff Michael D. McCoy, detectives are in the process of attempting to determine ownership of the recovered property.

Only two counts of burglary were filed against Bricker and Schnoor, with one still filed against Welch.

The trio will appear in misdemeanor court in Room 321 of the Peoria County Courthouse at 9 a.m. Sept. 18.

McCoy said the investigation is ongoing and additional charges may be added.

Once they are indicted, they will appear in felony court.