Police: Wood River burglary suspect prowled while families slept

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WOOD RIVER, IL (KTVI) - It may to be one of the most frightening crimes: a family asleep in their home while a burglar goes bedroom-to-bedroom, stealing their possessions. Police said it happened repeatedly in a Wood River, Illinois neighborhood.

Josh and Erica Wilcutt and their five children were among the victims.

“There’s no words, terrifying, no words to describe it,” Erica said.

Police said four homes and six vehicles were broken into. Detectives moved quickly and within six hours of the most recent burglary, a 17-year-old suspect was under arrest.

“It puts you on edge it makes you a really nervous,” said Danny Bunker, who lives in the neighborhood.

The suspect was armed with a knife, which he used to open windows or locked doors.

“He went through our nightstand, which is inches away from our head,” Erica said.

She and her husband have five children, ages 4 to 12. All of them were asleep early Wednesday morning when the burglar ransacked the place, stealing the mortgage, money and cash saved for summer activities. He went into the kids’ rooms. He also stole seven knifes.

“That was my fear; if one of us would have woken up, it would have been a whole different story – a murder scene,” Josh Wilcutt said.

Some of the stolen items have been recovered by police. People who live in the neighborhood have been calling home security companies and they are planning to form a neighborhood watch.

“I was scared to death I was very angry, very angry though,” said resident Amanda Copeland.

It’s unlikely the Wilcutt family will ever recover all the money the burglar took from them. The juvenile suspect was caught on tape at a supermarket cashing it in. However, something even more important than money was taken from the family.

“What he took from us that we can’t get back. The safety, the sense of security; all the kids slept in me and my husband’s room last night,” Erica said.

All told, more than $2,500 in cash was taken in the burglaries. The video in the grocery store, plus the fact the suspect was known to an area police department helped lead to his arrest.