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Illinois man charged with Monroe thefts

MONROE — Police used a thermal drone to locate a thief hiding in long grass and weeds in the industrial park on the north side of the city June 24, according to court records.

Thomas E. Ulve, 42, Sterling, Illinois, was arrested and now faces felony charges of theft and attempted theft as well as misdemeanor charges of theft and criminal damage to property, all as a party to a crime. 

Ulve signed a $10,000 signature bond June 30 with conditions that he have no contact with one individual victim as well as two victimized businesses, Monroe Powersports and Rufer Refrigeration. He’s due back in Green County Circuit Court for a preliminary hearing Aug. 11.

According to the criminal complaint, an officer on patrol was driving through the industrial park in the area of County DR and North 29th Avenue at about 10:20 p.m. June 24 when he noticed an unoccupied parked van he’d never before seen. Police later determined the license plates on the van had been stolen off a vehicle in downtown Monroe.

The chain-link fence at Monroe Powersports had been cut. In addition to the stolen license plates, police identified the theft or attempted theft of a Kawasaki motorcycle, Trek 7000 bike, Polaris Sportsman 4-wheeler, 18-foot trailer, Polaris Trailblazer 4-wheeler and a Honda CBR motorcycle. Some of the vehicles belonged to customers of the businesses.

A police thermal drone showed a “heat signature” behind one of the businesses and led officers to Ulve “attempting to hide by lying down” in the grass. Ulve had with him a pair of wire cutters and a socket for a ratchet.

Ulve did not answer when asked how many others were hiding. The case remains under investigation. The criminal complaint notes Ulve was convicted in January 2019 in Whiteside County, Illinois, of felony possession of methamphetamine.