Hector Roman is a prolific, yet specialized, criminal. In 2020, he pleaded guilty to seven felony counts of burglary and three counts of identity theft for a series of crimes that prosecutors said involved a financial crime enterprise built entirely on gym locker break-ins.
A judge sentenced him to three or four years on each count, but they were all served concurrently. The state reduced his sentence by 50% for “good behavior,” so Roman got out of prison after serving just two years — on the day before Thanksgiving last year.
Just a few weeks later, prosecutors said Wednesday, Roman broke into a locker at a Northwest Side fitness center and stole a man’s property. Then he used the victim’s credit cards to buy gift cards, Assistant State’s Attorney Loukas Kalliantasis said.
It happened at XSport, 5515 West Irving Park Road, around 2:30 p.m. on January 9, according to CPD records. The victim used his own padlock to secure his locker, Kalliantasis said, but it was cut off when he returned after his workout.
About an hour after the burglary, Roman allegedly used the victim’s credit card to buy $300 worth of gift cards at a nearby Walgreens. Cops recognized Roman in surveillance images from the purchase. XSport cameras also recorded him entering the locker room, Kalliantasis said.
Roman, 21, was carrying a backpack when police arrested him Tuesday. It contained a pair of boltcutters, Kalliantasis said. During an interview with police, Roman allegedly admitted to the burglary and identified himself in surveillance images.
Kalliantasis told Judge Barbara Dawkins about Roman’s ten felony convictions from 2019, although he didn’t tell her that they all involved fitness center break-ins. The Illinois Department of Corrections has not moved to revoke Roman’s parole, either, according to court filings.
Roman’s public defender said he recently started working as a cook at Chipotle.
Dawkins set bail at $10,000. Roman must pay 10% of that to go home on electronic monitoring.
The same old song
The new allegations are identical to the charges prosecutors made against Roman in 2019.
Back then, they said he took wallets and car keys when he broke into lockers at XSport, LA Fitness, Planet Fitness, and other facilities between May and October 2019. He also stole property from vehicles on the gym’s parking lot after he used stolen keys to open the cars, according to allegations in court records. Then, Roman used the credit cards to make purchases worth hundreds of dollars at stores.
Gym patrons were targeted as they worked out in facilities stretching from Boystown to Lincoln Square to Edgewater to the north suburbs, prosecutors alleged. A grand jury eventually charged Roman with dozens of felonies in connection with the scheme.
His master plan came to an abrupt end after police pulled him over in the 500 block of West Belmont because the car he was driving had been reported stolen, according to a CPD report. Not coincidentally, the stolen car’s keys were taken from a gym locker while its owner worked out, according to court records.
Many of the burglaries took place after Roman went missing while on bail for burglarizing another gym locker earlier in 2019.
Roman is the second serial fitness center burglar accused of recidivism this month.
As we reported Tuesday, prosecutors last week charged Lamont Cathey with breaking into lockers at two downtown yoga studios and using the victims’ credit cards to purchase electronics worth thousands of dollars. Prosecutors said he also stole one victim’s Maserati from the gym parking garage.
Cathey already had another gym burglary and for escaping electronic monitoring when police arrested him last week.