News - Sauk Valley

K-9, thermal imaging used to track down suspect in woods near Prophetstown

Jacob Owen Austin

MORRISON – Using a police dog and thermal imaging, deputies with the Whiteside County Sheriff’s Office on Thursday tracked down and apprehended a man who ran through the woods east of Prophetstown after first driving away from a routine traffic stop.

Jacob Austin, 36, of Davenport, Iowa, was taken into custody and transported to the Whiteside County Jail.

According to a news release from the Whiteside County Sheriff’s Office, the suspect was held on charges of burglary and other traffic offenses.

The report from the sheriff said a deputy on patrol at 8:10 a.m. in the vicinity of Spring Hill Road and Howard Road, which is west of Prophetstown, tried to conduct a traffic stop on a black Jeep Grand Cherokee sports utility vehicle.

The SUV fled, driving on the road and then going off the road.

Deputies initially lost sight of the vehicle. But west of Prophetstown, deputies along Star Road spotted it to the south on Yager Road.

The SUV turned off the road and fled east, heading across fields. It drove into a stand of timber near Perkins Road.

Deputies found the vehicle in the woods, but it was unoccupied.

The county’s K-9 unit was already at the scene. The dog and its handler tracked the suspect for about a quarter-mile through the timber to another tree line.

Deputies then used a thermal imaging device to scan the tree line and observed a heat signature.

The K-9 unit and other law enforcement officers approached the suspect, who was taken into custody without further incident.

Also responding to the incident were members of the Illinois State Police, Prophetstown Police Department and Erie Police Department.

Troy Taylor

Troy E. Taylor

Was named editor for and the Gazette and Telegraph in 2021. An Illinois native, he has been a reporter or editor in daily newspapers since 1989.