Indianapolis, Ind (August 20, 2014) - A strange case case involving a suspect wearing a cat costume has resulted in the arrests and convictions of seven people on the east side of Indianapolis.
The case first made headlines in November 2012 when security video of the incident was released to the public. The video showed a male wearing a full body cat costume walking into the Shell gas station in the 2000 block of East Washington Street.
"The incident was relatively minor," said IMPD Detective Brian Lambert. "The guy went into the store, he threw a stuffed teddy bear at the clerk, the clerk got angry and ran after him with a stick."
The bizarre case had many scratching their heads.
But when detectives and patrol officers reviewed the security video, they noticed another man standing outside the store, shooting cell phone video of the incident. Officers recognized the man as Chase Rives, a prior offender who lived across the street from the Shell station.
Rives actually spoke with Fox59 shortly after the cat suit case occured. He claimed to be an innocent witness who just wanted to shoot video of the incident.
"I have no idea, that cat is crazy," he told Fox59.
When police visited Rives at his home, they say he told them to get lost and check out his YouTube channel.
What followed was a year-long investigation into videos posted on social media and stored on Rives' cell phone.
"We started seeing things that they were involved in with guns," Lambert said. "And we knew that some of these people were serious violent felons at the time. So that just started broadening the investigation."
In February 2014, investigators, including SWAT officers, obtained a search warrant for Rives' home they found several items that had been reported stolen in nearby burglaries and thefts.
They also found several videos showing Rives and his group committing various crimes. The videos showed Rives firing shots from his window, striking the same Shell station. They showed a fight outside the Shell station where shots were reported. Other videos showed Rives' toddler son being encouraged to abuse a puppy. Several of the videos depicted members of the group getting high by abusing a cough and cold medicine called Triple-C.
Many of the crimes captured in the videos appeared to be fueled by Triple-C, Lambert said. The cough and cold medicine had been stolen from nearby stores.
Another video showed the group laughing as they watched Fox59 coverage of the original cat suit incident. Detectives also found the video Rives shot of the cat suit incident. It revealed that Rives was not merely a witness to the incident, but he had been part of the planning of it.
"These guys are posting their crimes and their criminal activity on social media," Lambert said. "And, you know, we follow up with those when we can. It's good evidence."
In June 2014, Chase Rives was the last of seven individuals to plead guilty to various charges involved with the crime spree.
He was sentenced to a total 24 years on charges including burglary, theft, possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon, neglect of a dependent, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and animal torture.
Others who pleaded guilty to Theft and Burglary charges were Dustin Rives, Candice Rives, Thomas Cobb, Rebecca York, Christina Simpson and Destiny Miller.
People who live near the 2000 block of East Washington Street tell Fox59 they've noticed a quieter neighborhood since the arrests.
Detective Lambert says the case highlights the diligent work of East District patrol officers who stayed with the case for more than a year.
As for the suspects who chose to record their crimes on video:
"Not the brightest group I've ever run into, by far," Lambert said.