A pair of shoes left along a Twin Lakes shore apparently remained the only clue Wednesday as police continued hunting for a suspected vehicle wheel thief.
The area’s northern lake has not yet been searched by divers, nor have officers conducted a foot search in the wooded and residential area since Tuesday morning.
Pekin police believe the man has probably left the area between Illinois Route 8 and Chateau Drive in North Pekin since he and another man fled early Tuesday from a North Eighth Street auto dealership where they were allegedly seen stealing wheels from late-model cars.
They don’t know how he fled – no cars have been reported stolen in the area – and they don’t yet know his name. His alleged accomplice, who was caught, isn’t talking to police.
Brian Mims, 56, of Missouri, “has lawyered up,” said Pekin Police Public Information Officer Billie Ingles.
“We don’t have anything new to follow up on from (Tuesday),” Ingles said. “I wish we did.”
Detectives, meanwhile, are seeking to learn whether Mims and the missing man are connected to a series of similar crimes over the past two months in the Peoria-Pekin area and in Quincy two weeks ago.
One similarity in that case stands out. At the Quincy dealership where 28 wheels were stolen from seven vehicles, police found seven of them in a vehicle left on the property. That vehicle, apparently broken down and abandoned, had been stolen from Cape Girardeau, Mo., Quincy police said.
The vehicle in which Mims and the other man drove away from the Pekin dealership Tuesday also had been stolen from Missouri, police said.
The men fled when they realized an employee of the dealership, arriving for work at 4 a.m., had spotted them crouched near a row of parked SUVs, police said. At least one was wearing a black ski mask.
The employee alerted police in a 911 call as he followed them the short distance north to the Twin Lakes area. The two abandoned their vehicle and fled on foot as Pekin and North Pekin police raced to the scene.
They found Mims hiding along the north lake’s shore. He jumped into the cold water as they closed in but quickly emerged.
While Chief John Dossey said thinks Mims’ alleged partner slipped away in the foggy, pre-dawn darkness, a pair of men’s shoes were found on the shore.
Mims, booked on charges of burglary, theft and possession of burglary tools, is expected to appear in bonding court Thursday, when he’ll be formally charged.
Follow Michael Smothers at Twitter.com/msmotherspekin