Missing 2 years, Public Works specialist finds stolen purse in Wheaton sewer

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Burglary suspect linked to the crime arrested, police say

WHEATON, Ill. — After more than two years, the case of a missing purse in Wheaton has been solved.

Rocco Sangiacomo, a public works maintenance specialist, says Tuesday was a typical day until he made an unusual find. A purse was discovered along Stoddard Avenue, where Sangiacomo says he was inspecting sewers with other city crews.

“I looked in the sewer, I popped open the top, the grate, and I looked down. There was still water in there because it just rained,” he said. “And I looked down, and there’s something weird was down there. So I grabbed our sewer hook, picked it up, and grabbed the handles of it, and I was like, ‘oh my god, it’s a purse.”

Sangiacomo said the woman’s personal belongings were still inside.

“Her credit card, her license. Tic tacs were still in there. Lipstick. Her favorite hairbrush,” he added.

The purse was covered in dirt and worms, Sangiacomo said. Once he learned that the woman lived a couple of blocks down the street, he sought to return the lost item.

Sangiacomo gave the purse back to the woman, who Wheaton police said was a home burglary victim. They say the suspect stole the purse and later discarded it in the sewer.

“For us to be so lucky to to find someone’s property two years after the fact is very unusual,” said PJ Youker, Deputy Chief of Operations for Wheaton Police Department. “She was happy to get the purse and some of the items back knowing that they’re not still floating out there.”

The suspect, Julius Martin, is currently being held in DuPage County Jail, where he is facing multiple burglar charges out of Naperville and Wheaton.

Said Sangiacomo: “I hope the person learned their lesson.”

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