Man charged with stealing cargo truck from Polar Plunge insists he was just taking it to buy cigarettes

Chicago — The man who allegedly stole a cargo truck from the Polar Plunge event at North Avenue Beach on Sunday morning pleaded with a Cook County judge to let him go home.

“I just wanna get home to my 5-year-old son,” Timothy Anderson told Judge Charles Beach at the beginning of his bond hearing on Monday afternoon.

But after hearing the prosecutors’ allegations against Anderson, Beach seemed unconvinced by Anderson’s pleading.

“Mr. Anderson,” Beach began, “it appears that you’ve been everywhere but home with your kid that you’re in a rush to see.”

Timothy Anderson (inset) and a video frame of the stolen truck heading north on the Lakefront Trail after making a U-turn near Ohio Street Beach. | Cook County sheriff’s office; Andrew Coffey

“This case involves the fact you’re out on the lakeshore during the Polar Plunge and decide to avail yourself of a truck that was present there to serve the purposes of those individuals who were sacrificing their time and their day to raise money for a charity,” said Beach. “Notwithstanding the fact that they were jumping into an ice-cold lake.”

Anderson countered that he had permission to use the truck to buy cigarettes.

During the court session, Assistant State’s Attorney Zachary Peasall told Beach that the keys to a large Ford cargo truck were tucked above the driver’s sun visor at the Polar Plunge site.

Surveillance video showed Anderson climbing into the truck, getting the keys, and driving away with the vehicle around 8:45 a.m., Peasall said.

Witnesses said the truck headed south on the Lakefront Trail until the driver reached the Navy Pier flyover and turned around because the path became too narrow.

Andrew Coffey tweeted videos showing the truck rolling along the lakeshore and the driver making a daring three-point turn near Ohio Street Beach.

Chicago police tracked the truck’s GPS and arrested Anderson near Hollywood and Lake Shore Drive about 15 minutes after the truck disappeared from the Polar Plunge. He’s charged with possessing a stolen motor vehicle valued at more than $25,000 and reckless driving.

Peasall told Judge Beach that Anderson has a pending intimidation case in Indiana. Peasall also served Anderson with an unrelated order of protection in court and said Anderson was convicted of felony aggravated battery in 2018 and 2015. He has also had four misdemeanor cases resolved through conditional discharge since 2018.

His public defender said Anderson has worked as a bucket boy for the Chicago Bulls for ten years.

In the end, Beach told Anderson that he had to pay a $2,500 bail deposit to be released on electronic monitoring. 

“I was helping them,” Anderson insisted, “I have proof … All this is a scam to get me arrested. I’m telling you. There’s something behind this.”

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