Prolific fitness center burglar tells cops he’s been breaking into several lockers a week for five years: court records

Hector Roman has been arrested again. You may remember Hector, a prolific burglar who is on parole for 10 felonies related to fitness center locker room break-ins across Chicagoland. Prosecutors say he used stolen credit cards to fun a financial crime enterprise.

Hector Roman | CPD; Wikicommons

We reported last month that Roman, 21, had been charged with breaking into another fitness center locker and using the victim’s credit cards to buy gift cards just a few weeks after he got out of prison for 10 locker break-ins. The state did not revoke his parole last month and Judge Barbara Dawkins allowed him to go home on electronic monitoring by posting a $1,000 bail deposit.

Guess what happened three days after he got out of jail?

He cut off his electronic monitoring band and escaped, prosecutors said Wednesday. He was in the wind, allegedly burglarizing lockers, until cops caught up with him Tuesday.

But a record in his latest court file contains a lot of information about how and why Roman does what he does. It also says he told investigators he’s been breaking into several lockers a week for five years as a source of income. More on that in a minute.

Back at it

On March 29, exactly a week after he got out of jail on electronic monitoring, Roman walked into XSport, 3030 North Broadway in Lakeview, and broke into a locker, according to prosecutors and police records. Video cameras recorded him entering and leaving.

He allegedly stole credit cards from inside, then went to the Mariano’s downstairs to buy a $400 gift card.

Investigator also linked him to another XSport locker room burglary from February 24, prosecutors said Wednesday. That was at the chain’s 5515 West Irving Park Road location, CPD records show.

He allegedly used a stolen membership card to get inside, then used freshly-stolen credit cards to buy a $400 gift card at Walgreens.

Prosecutors said investigators identified Roman through a “Critical Reach” bulletin. That’s an all-points bulletin network that shares information across jurisdictions. The network identified seven suburban police departments stretching from Glenview to St. Charles with fitness center burglaries to Roman, according to a court record.

After cops arrested Roman this week on the 1200 block of North Pulaski, he allegedly pushed past an aide in the police station lockup and tried to run out the front door. Prosecutors said cops arrested him as he reached the station’s front desk.

On Wednesday, prosecutors charged him with felony burglary, felony escape from a peace officer, escape from electronic monitoring, and misdemeanor battery.

Judge Kelly McCarthy ordered him held on $150,000 bail for the burglary and another $150,000 for the escape from electronic monitoring charge. He will also be held without bail for violating the terms of bond in the burglary case he picked up last month.

Inside info

A document in Roman’s latest court file said he told investigators this week that he has broken in to several lockers every week for five years to support himself. (Quick math: If he scored a $400 gift card after each break-in, he would be making over $100,000 a year.)

“Roman stated it is easy to sneak into XSport and LA Fitness locations when the staff is not watching,” the document said. “Roman states he has never been challenged by staff when entering these locations.”

Roman also allegedly told police he thinks fitness centers are a good place to commit crime because the facilities cannot put surveillance cameras inside locker rooms.

He allegedly told cops, “opening locks is very easy to do with his hands and his strength … using the leverage of the locker to assist.”

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com