Racine police say a 29-year-old man was seen Monday trying to break into at least two city parking meters near the Law Enforcement Center.

Nicholas Craft, of Racine, was charged Tuesday in Racine County Circuit Court with one felony count of possession of burglary tools and one misdemeanor each of obstruction and entry into a locked coin box. If convicted, he faces up to four years, 7-1/2 months in prison and/or up to $25,000 in fines. Because Craft is considered a repeat offender, he could have extra time tacked onto any sentence he might receive.

According to the criminal complaint, officers on patrol at 10:18 p.m. Monday near 7th Street and Wisconsin Avenue observed a man – later identified as Craft even though he lied at first about his identity – using a long tool to try and break into a parking meter. After police rounded the corner, they saw Craft trying to break into another meter and they approached him.

Officers say Craft was holding a large envelope that appeared to have heavy objects inside it, but when they approached him and asked Craft to put the envelope down, he complied. When he was questioned about what he was doing with the meters, Craft said he was a nice guy “doing nice things for people,” including plugging parking meters with pennies despite the lack of vehicles in the immediate vicinity and the fact that meters don’t accept pennies.

The envelope Craft placed on the sidewalk contained a number of items, including screwdrivers, wire snips and at least one hammer, the complaint reads. Craft refused at least two orders to keep his hands visible so he was placed in handcuffs, and police conducted a search of his person, finding a Sawzall blade in his front pocket. The envelope was affixed with the name and address of a local business, and Craft tried to explain the tools were for work he does for the business owner.

Craft remains in the Racine County Jail on a $750 cash bond and a Department of Corrections hold because he was on felony probation. His next court date is Aug. 6 for a preliminary hearing.

 

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