Riverside police arrested a convicted sex offender attempting to visit Brookfield Zoo on Friday.
Rick A. Lucas, 55, of the 500 block of Thompson St. in South Beloit, was charged with one count of a “sexual predator and child sex offender in a restricted area,” Riverside police said in a release.
Around 12:28 p.m., authorities said an officer on patrol saw what appeared to be a disabled silver Chevrolet Impala stopped in the middle of the road on First Ave.
When the officer approached, the female driver told him she had only pulled over to wait for her boyfriend, who she had dropped off at the south gate of Brookfield Zoo, according to police.
Authorities said she told the officer he was going to visit the zoo and she was too tired to walk with him.
Upon running the car’s license plates, the officer discovered that the vehicle belonged to Lucas, a convicted child sex offender registered with the Illinois State Police Child Sex Offender List.
The officer then had the woman, a 69-year-old Lyons resident, contact Lucas to arrange a meeting with police inside the zoo, where he was taken into custody near the south gate.
Lucas had a camera and a cell phone in his possession, according to police, as well as a ticket he purchased to access the zoo’s dinosaurs and dragons exhibit, which he told investigators he wanted to see and photograph.
Lucas was arrested in Rock County, Wisconsin, in 1990 and charged with two felony counts of first-degree sexual assault of a 6-year-old child, court records show. Two weeks later, he was arrested again in Waupun, Wisconsin, and charged with bail jumping.
He was convicted in 1991 and sentenced to 10 years in prison. After his release, he moved to Illinois, where he remains on the sex offender registry.
As part of his requirement for release on parole, authorities said Lucas is not allowed to have unsupervised contact with any children without a supervisor present.
Brookfield Zoo is classified as a park under Illinois law, according to police, meaning Lucas was in violation of that requirement.
Lucas faces one count of sex offender in a restricted area, a misdemeanor, according to police, who said the charge was filed “after much discussion.”
In order to charge him with a felony, officials said would need to have proof that he had physical contact or a conversation with a child, which police could not provide at the time.
Investigators confiscated Lucas’ phone and camera and planned to seek a warrant to search them, according to police.
“This offender was uncooperative with police the entire time he was in our custody and provided what I believe is no truthful answers during the investigation,” Riverside Police Chief Thomas Weitzel said in a statement.
“My detectives will continue to follow up on the images that may be on his phone and camera and other charges could be forthcoming in the future depending on what evidence is collected,” he added.
Published at 5:04 PM CDT on Jun 11, 2017 | Updated 4 hours ago