Tuesday, December 19, 2000

Man accused in five purse thefts

By Janice Morse
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — A 25-year-old man is accused in five purse thefts, including four at school buildings — and neighboring police in Butler and Hamilton counties are considering similar charges.

        Estil Brian Johnson, of the 1800 block of Northwest Washington Boulevard, was being held Monday in the Butler County Jail while the investigation continued.

        Police reports allege that Mr. Johnson, who was arrested Friday at police headquarters, stole five purses and/or wallets inside the buildings between Dec. 7 and Dec. 12. He then used the credit cards they contained, police say.

Trend suspected

               One charge was made for more than $500 and five transactions for lesser amounts, police said.

        Eleven other purchase attempts were unsuccessful.

        The reported purse thefts occurred at the Ponderosa restaurant in the 1200 block of Main Street and at four schools: Wilson Junior High and Fillmore, Madison and Buchanan elementaries. In the Madison and Buchanan incidents, the purses were left behind but wallets were stolen from them.

        Sgt. Thomas E. Kilgour, Hamilton police spokesman, said detectives David Collins and David Weissinger noticed an apparent pattern among the incidents.

        “They were seeing a trend, developed information, did the follow-up and were able to make the apprehension,” Sgt. Kilgour said.

        Sgt. Kilgour said he couldn't immediately determine how the thief might have gained access to classrooms where the purses had been kept.

Other charges

               Detectives in Ross, Colerain and West Chester townships were investigating similar cases, Sgt. Kilgour said, and a police report indicated other charges against were pending.

        Mr. Johnson has been charged with four counts of burglary, five counts of theft and more than a dozen counts of credit-card misuse, all stemming from the alleged Hamilton incidents.

        He also faces a previous charge of trafficking in drugs.


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