Identity theft charge filed against man who allegedly crawled on movie theater floor, went through purses

Chicago — Prosecutors say a retired New York City police officer became suspicious when he saw a man crawling around on the floor of a Lakeview movie theater this month. And his curiosity led to Chicago police arresting a man for allegedly stealing the identity of an 81-year-old woman.

Last week, the retired cop called 911 after seeing Johnny Cobbs, 44, “crawling around on the floor in the dark movie theater and reaching into people’s purses,” prosecutor Rhianna Biernat said. According to a Chicago police report, the theater is located at 2828 North Clark.

Johnny Cobbs | Chicago Police Department; Google

Cops searched the area and found Cobbs in the 600 block of West Diversey. Biernat said that officers ran his name and found that he had two outstanding warrants: one for a robbery in 2019 and another for escaping electronic monitoring.

Cobbs was found with two credit cards belonging to women, a residential ID in the name of another man, and two $200 Visa gift cards, according to a CPD report. One of the cards belonged to an 81-year-old woman from Lincoln Park. On December 2, she reported that her stolen credit card had been used fraudulently.

Coincidentally, the woman’s card had been used to make a purchase at a restaurant and bar just steps away from where police arrested Cobbs last week. A bartender there told police they remembered Cobbs and noticed that the name on his ID didn’t match the woman’s name on the credit card, Biernat said. But the bartender processed the transaction anyway and noted Cobb’s name on the receipt.

Police could not locate the woman whose name appeared on the other card Cobbs allegedly had, a CPD report said. The officers could not find any victims at the movie theater either.

Cobbs’ public defender told Judge Susana Ortiz that he was on medication for a mental health issue and he could not afford to pay any money for bail.

Yet, after Ortiz ordered Cobbs to pay a $1,500 bail deposit to be released from custody, Cobbs spoke up to say he could pay $1,000 if the judge would reduce the bail amount. She did.

Cobbs faces felony charges of identity theft and illegal possession of a credit card.

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