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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Suspect charged in Old Chain of Rocks Bridge break-ins

Nearly two dozen vehicle break-ins have taken place this year at the Illinois lot of the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge, but there's good news for bridge visitors.

Madison (Ill.) police last week arrested a suspect, 18-year-old Kenneth A. Woods-Bey of St. Louis, and he has been charged four felony counts of burglary, the Suburban Journals report this week.

According to the story -- written by Scott Cousins, a longtime friend and a classmate of mine at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville -- Officer Scott Reynolds had dropped off a prisoner at the Madison County Jail in Edwardsville and was coming back to the city when he decided to do a quick patrol of Chouteau Island about 8 a.m. last Friday. As Reynolds was heading toward the Canal Bridge, a black Dodge Challenger that had been identified as being previously used in a break-in on the island was crossing ahead of him. The officer stopped the vehicle and took three people into custody.

Madison Police Chief Steve Shelby told the Journals that police were able to identify Woods-Bey through video from security cameras on the bridge and in the parking lot. The other two people in the car were not charged.

As I've unfortunately had to report several times over the years, Missouri and Illinois parking lots at the bridge have been plagued by car break-ins. Trailnet, which operates the bridge that is owned by the city of Madison, ultimately had to close the Missouri lot adjacent to the bridge -- except for special events -- because of the problem and a lack of funds to provide security every day.

The Old Chain of Rocks Bridge once carried Route 66 traffic over the Mississippi River; today it's a bicycle/pedestrian bridge that draws lots of visitors. Let's hope this arrest helps make visitors feel a bit safer.

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