Police hope arrest of sock bandit thwarts possible intentions

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BELLEVILLE, IL (KTVI) - A sock bandit is back behind bars.  James Dowdy, 43, of Belleville, IL has faced crimes related to sock thefts dating back to 1996.  One of those crimes involved breaking into someone’s home. This time he’s accused of stealing socks from a car.

In 2008 Belleville Police told us they feared Dowdy was on a path to becoming a child predator.  He was stealing socks and leaving socks on the lawns of some people.  Some socks were stained with his bodily fluids, and some socks were the size a child would wear.

Recently, some socks started turning up in the 7600 block of West Main, one block away from Dowdy’s home.  Police suspected Dowd.  Police feared the crimes would escalate based on Dowdy’s past.

They set up a bait car with a laundry basket and a surveillance camera.  They say that’s how Dowdy was arrested.

“It was a case of community involvement, old fashioned police work and modern technology,” said Sgt. Mark Heffernan, Belleville Police Department.

Heffernan declined to comment about items retrieved from Dowdy’s home following the arrest, but echoed the department’s previous concerns about Dowdy’s intentions.

“Children could be potentially what he’s looking at,” said Heffernan.  “So that gives us concern as well.”

No one answered the door of the house where Dowdy lives in the 7700 block of West Main.  Previously his mother had told us her son needed mental help instead of incarceration.

Dowdy was on parole when he was arrested this week.  He is charged with burglary and is jailed on a $300,000 bond.​