A previously unidentified suspect believed to be responsible for a handful of area robberies was arrested last week and Forest Park police have charged him with committing five different heists.

Ricardo C. Saunders, 41, of Chicago, was taken into custody by local police on June 6 after investigators received a tip. According to a statement from police, the informant came forward to detectives in Oak Park after seeing video surveillance photos published in the Forest Park Review. Oak Park police contacted law enforcement here in the village and it was discovered that Saunders was already at the Cook County Jail on an unrelated drug charge. Upon his release from the county jail last Wednesday evening, Forest Park police immediately arrested him on the robbery charges, authorities said.

“That was the biggest break of all, getting somebody to look at his photo and recognize him,” Det. Scott Frey said.

In all, Saunders is facing one count of aggravated robbery, three counts of robbery and four counts of theft for allegedly knocking off several convenience stores and a pharmacy in the village. According to police, Saunders confessed to six different robberies and witnesses to the alleged crimes later picked him out of lineups conducted the day after his arrest. Saunders will not face charges for the sixth incident, despite the alleged confession, Frey said, because the victim in the case did not press charges.

The crimes were committed over several months, dating back to the latter half of 2006 and as recently as May of 2007, according to police. Saunders is being held in Cook County Jail on $250,000 bond.

Authorities in Forest Park are not the only ones interested in Saunders. Oak Park Deputy Chief Bob Scianna said he is confident Saunders is responsible for several similar incidents in that community, however, the department has not yet brought charges. The trouble, Scianna said, was getting Saunders’ alleged victims in Oak Park to participate in the police lineups conducted in Forest Park. Coordinating another lineup is certainly possible, Scianna said, but his department “missed the easier opportunity.”

“We didn’t make any headway in our case,” Scianna said.

Police have described Saunders’ alleged crimes as “till tapping.” The suspect allegedly approached the cashier pretending to make a small purchase, and when the register drawer was open, made a grab for whatever cash was in the register. Saunders is not accused of having used force or the threat of force in any of the alleged robberies in Forest Park. Investigators in neighboring communities, however, have said that Saunders is a suspect in several incidents where a weapon was either implied or shown.