Fairview Heights police search for suspects they say pickpocketed man, spent thousands

Fairview Heights police have released video surveillance footage of two suspects they say pickpocketed a man at a restaurant over the weekend before spending his money on gift cards.

Around 11:45 a.m. on Oct. 26, a 71-year-old man reported to police that his wallet had been stolen at the Bob Evans at 10 Ludwig Drive in Fairview Heights, a news release from the department stated. The man told police he had eaten alone, paid his bill and began to walk outside.

As he approached the door, a man walked in front of him and sneezed, which stopped him from walking forward, according to police. Another man who was walking behind the victim bumped into him when he stopped, then all three walked out together.

“The unsuspecting victim continued about his morning, going to the mall,” police said in a statement. “While at the mall, he received an email that one of his credit cards was being used at the CVS in Swansea. The victim felt in his coat pocket, where he had put his wallet, to find it was gone.”

The suspects were able to purchase several gift cards at the pharmacy, amounting to approximately $2,000, police say. The wallet also contained an undetermined amount of cash.

In the video footage from Bob Evans, two to three suspects appear to plot their plan to pickpocket the man while he pays his bill around 10:30 a.m. The first suspect is described as a black man wearing a button-up shirt and tie, with a heavier build and glasses. The second suspect is a black man wearing a black baseball cap with a white emblem on the front and a silver or gold earring his right earring.

There was also a third man talking to the first suspect at the door of the restaurant who stepped out prior to the theft, police said. It has not been determined if the third man is involved, said police, but described him as a bald white man with Converse All-Star shoes.

The first two suspects are later scene in surveillance video from CVS around 10:45 a.m. making transactions while wearing the same clothing.

Anyone who can identify the suspects or has information about the crime can contact the Fairview Heights Police Department at 618-489-2100 or leave an anonymous tip at

Hana Muslic has been a public safety reporter for the Belleville News-Democrat since August 2018, covering everything from crime and courts to accidents, fires and natural disasters. She is a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s College of Journalism and her previous work can be found in The Lincoln Journal-Star and The Kansas City Star.