(WGN) – Investigators tracked down two suspects accused in an armored truck robbery Tuesday with the help of a hidden Apple AirTag inside a bin of stolen money, court documents show.
In a criminal complaint filed Wednesday in federal court, authorities recommended Devonte Davis, 26, and Darrell Singleton, 18, be charged with armed robbery.
Singleton, who is also accused in another armed robbery of a Brink’s truck last October, was already wanted by the FBI, a spokesperson for its Chicago Field Office confirmed.
According to authorities, Tuesday’s robbery happened at about 9:25 a.m. outside a Jewel-Osco grocery store in south suburban Homewood, Illinois. Brink’s records show the robbers took approximately $1.1 million, court documents say.
The criminal complaint alleges two guards got out of the armored truck and went into the store. When one returned, he was approached by a suspect, identified by federal authorities as Singleton, who reportedly pistol-whipped him in the head with a gun.
Court documents show the suspected robbers removed seven plastic bins, each of which contained about $100,000 in cash, and stole approximately 10 deposit bags, each containing about $50,000.
Surveillance cameras captured parts of the robbery.
A witness who called 911 recalled seeing a grey Nissan parked behind the armored truck, later alleged to have been used by the suspects. According to the criminal complaint, the Nissan was caught on multiple speed cameras in the area traveling at high speed and bearing a license plate registered to a 2018 Hyundai that was reported stolen in late April.
Singleton, in an interview with investigators detailed in the criminal complaint, admitted the suspects swapped vehicles, moving the money into a Jeep belonging to Davis. The Jeep was located outside a home where the two were found.
Brink’s security officers contacted law enforcement and told them that a tracking device had been stolen along with the cash, subsequently providing live updates on the location of the device, according to federal investigators. It was about an hour from the time of the robbery until the tracking device was showing at the home, documents reveal.
“They were created for lost goods and Apple doesn’t advertise them being used for recovering stolen items, but they’re certainly being used for that more and more,” said retired FBI agent and CEO of Veracity IIR Doug Kouns.
“Perhaps the owner of that particular branch of the company was safeguarding themselves by randomly throwing an AirTag in every so many bags or bins,” Kouns said, “and in this case, it worked out.”
Kouns isn’t involved in this case, but spoke to Nexstar’s WGN about the nature of these crimes, which he said are typically violent.
“These banks and armored cars by extension are insured by the FDIC, which makes it a federal crime,” Kouns said. “Even if somebody’s not hurt, often guns are used or threatened.”
At the Calumet Park home where the suspects were found, law enforcement called for anyone inside to come out, and three people did, including Davis, his girlfriend and another male, the criminal complaint says. It was later when law enforcement searched the attic and found Singleton hiding. They also recovered a loaded handgun with an extended magazine.
“It was crazy,” said a neighbor identified only as Vanessa. “I’m like, ‘What is going on out here?’”
For hours, federal SWAT investigators, local police and other agencies swarmed the neighborhood, which residents said is typically quiet.
“I’m just shocked,” Vanessa said. “I’m just surprised whatever was going on, I didn’t see it.”
Vanessa said she knows her neighbors and that she is unaware of any problems previously at that home.
Investigators also recovered hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash hidden in the ceiling of the basement and under the insulation in the attic, records show. Also found were the AirTag tracking device inside a Brink’s bag, a Brink’s deposit slip, Brink’s keys and documentation, and clothing matching the description of what the suspects wore during the armed robbery.
According to court documents, Singleton admitted he and Davis committed the armed robbery in Homewood. Davis initially told investigators he was not involved, but later revised his statement, claiming he met up with Singleton after and drove around, placing money in unknown locations.
The arrests were a double victory for the FBI, which had been looking for Singleton since last year when a warrant was issued for his arrest.
Investigators said Darrell Singleton, his 21-year-old brother Corrie Singleton, and a juvenile were involved in an armed robbery in Lansing. According to the indictment and criminal complaints filed in that case, that robbery involved a Brink’s security courier who was refilling an ATM at a bank when she was robbed at gunpoint and money was stolen from the ATM.
Authorities also allege, in that case, the suspects forcibly dragged the courier into the armored truck and ordered her to open inner compartments and hand over bags of money. In total, more than $121,000 was stolen from the courier and ATM, and approximately $904,132 from the armored truck.
Federal prosecutors allege the suspects fled police, and after a pursuit, crashed and bailed on foot. Corrie Singleton and the juvenile were taken into custody, while Darrell remained on the run until earlier this week.
Court records show Darrell Singleton will appear in front of a judge on May 10 for a status hearing.
(Images provided via a criminal complaint filed by the FBI in U.S. District Court)