30-time felon charged with stealing scooters after being released early for being a skilled mechanic

CHICAGO —  A 30-time convicted felon on parole for stealing ten scooters across downtown Chicago and the North Side in 2020 is back in police custody this morning, accused of (wait for it) stealing more scooters downtown and on the North Side.

Randall Brown, 54, was sentenced to ten concurrent 8-year sentences for the 2020 cases, but he was released in less than three years because he earned special credits while in prison. According to a source, those credits were earned because—here it comes—he showed proficiency as a mechanic.

Randall Brown (left) and a picture taken by a CWBChicago reader recently as a man stole their scooter. | Chicago Police Department; Twitter

Over the weekend, CWBChicago shared video of a thief using tools to poke, pry, and unlock a scooter in Streeterville, not far from the intersection of Michigan and Grand. Brown allegedly used his mechanic skills to unlock the scooters’ steering columns and then pushed the bikes into alleys or other secluded spaces so he could use his mechanic skills to get the engines running, one recent victim said Sunday.

After we posted the story, a woman responded to our tweets about the crime pattern with photos of a man who had stolen her scooter just days earlier. He looked a lot like the man in the video.

In our story, we noted that Brown had been released from prison one month ago, well before his expected parole date, and the Illinois Department of Corrections listed him in “absconder” status, meaning nobody knew where he was.

Chicago police went looking for Brown on Sunday and found him in the 900 block of West Diversey, not far from the residence listed on his parole paperwork. He’s now charged with two counts of possessing a stolen motor vehicle in connection with two recent scooter thefts.

Earlier this month, Chicago police released a community alert to warn about a sudden surge in scooter thefts between April 10 and 14. Area Three detectives are hunting for video and pictures of other scooter thefts that could help them bring additional charges.

Brown is expected to be in bond court on Monday afternoon.