Graduate’s arrest could solve cases

By Stewart Warren

The NIU graduate who burglarized several on-campus offices stole so much university property that University Police used a van to bring the recovered items back to DeKalb.

The Rockford arrest of May graduate Richard E. Wanke, 30, Cherry Valley, solved at least three NIU burglaries, UP Sgt. Ralph Taylor said Monday. “We cleared three cases definitely and possibly two others. There may be more,” Taylor said.

Taylor said he brought a van load of NIU property back to DeKalb from Rockford. The stolen NIU items might total $20,000, he said.

“If one case works out in itself, it’s a $16,000 burglary,” he said.

Wanke, a fine arts major, might be the burglar who wiped out the NIU art visual communications program’s computer capabilities in October 1990, when he stole an Apple Macintosh system from the department.

“We’ve recovered from Rockford Apple and Macintosh computers from the art building—$4,000 worth,” Taylor said.

But police said Wanke did not limit his criminal activity to NIU. Wanke stole about $10,000 in merchandise from Wayman’s Ace Hardware, 1814 Sycamore Rd., including power tools, water heaters and dishes, during a June and a September break-in, DeKalb Police Lt. Dick Moudy said.

Wanke pried off a steel plate covering a vent-type opening on the side of the Wayman’s Ace building and entered the store, Moudy said.

“He pulled a vehicle up to the back of the building, loaded it up and drove away,” Moudy said. Police recovered more than 300 items stolen from the store, he said.

Rockford Police responded to an Oct. 25 burglary alarm at John Carlson’s Menswear, 275 Phelps, and found Wanke hiding in a shed attached to the store, Rockford Police Detective David Hopkins said.

About $100,000 in stolen property from 10 commercial burglaries, two residential burglaries and numerous thefts were recovered from several locations in Winnebago County, Hopkins said.

Wanke is scheduled to appear in court Nov. 12.