15-time convicted burglar is charged with burglarizing West Loop businesses (again)

Chicago — A career burglar on parole for burglarizing seven West Loop businesses in 2018 is back in jail today, accused of burglarizing four businesses since September, including three in the West Loop.

“I can’t help but notice the number of burglaries he’s committed,” Judge Charles Beach said of Robert Payne during a bail hearing on Sunday. “And, then, the fact that we have four pending here today.”


Since 1978, Payne has been sentenced to a combined 119 years in prison, although many of his sentences ran concurrently.

Robert Payne | CPD

He most recently received seven concurrent nine-year sentences for burglarizing businesses in 2018. All but one of those burglaries occurred in the West Loop.

On Sunday, prosecutors accused him of burglarizing three more West Loop businesses and another in West Town. Chicago police officers, perhaps predictably, recognized him from surveillance videos of the break-ins.

Assistant State’s Attorney Rhianna Biernat said Payne:

  • Pried open the back door of a store in the 900 block of West Van Buren on September 20 and took cash and a small safe.
  • Broke the front glass of a business in the 1700 block of West Chicago Avenue on October 13 and took a computer charger.
  • Busted the deadbolt on the door of a business in the 400 block of North Ada and took a laptop on October 16.
  • Pried open the rear door of a business in the 1500 block of West Carroll and took two laptops on October 30.

Biernat said videos showed Payne’s face during each of the burglaries, and he drove away from one of the crimes in a car registered to him.

Chicago police officers arrested Payne near his Old Town home last week.

His public defender, Suzin Farber, said he lives with his family and has been working for a cleaning company. She said he has lifelong substance abuse issues for which he has received treatment “on and off” for years.

Judge Beach ordered Payne to pay a $7,500 deposit toward bail to go home. Separately, Beach held Payne without bail on a warrant for possessing a stolen motor vehicle in Oak Park.

In 2018, Chicago police detectives arrested Payne after they literally walked right past him as they went to a West Loop business to pick up surveillance video of a break-in they were investigating.

He was carrying a cordless grinder, two pry bars, two watches, seventeen gold rings, three silver rings, sixteen metal rings, and a West Loop attorney’s concealed carry licenses from three different states, according to police records.

Among the businesses Payne is accused of burglarizing in the West Loop that year were: a computer-aided design shop; a daycare center; a shared office space; a construction company; a freelance talent agency; a law firm; a cloud migration company; a trophy shop, a data recovery firm; and a school that specializes in social justice-based education. A video production company in River North was listed as one of his victims that year.

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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