The Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office has arrested four men in connection with a series of industrial property break-ins, some dating back as far as two years.
The critical break in the case, Capt. Brad Douglas said, came as a result of “good, aggressive patrolling.”
“These are the guys who are out there looking for stuff at 2 or 3 a.m. while we’re all home in bed,” Douglas said.
Two of these patrolmen spotted a Dodge pickup truck in the early morning hours of April 16 parked on the side of Highway 34 near JFI Industries. Douglas said patrolmen had been notified to be on the lookout for suspicious vehicles near vacant or semi-vacant industrial buildings. The notice came after a spike in industrial property break-ins, all of which followed the same pattern.
The occupants of the truck — Terence Laverle Francis, 37, of 228 Dusty Lane in Hopkins and Seymour David Clark, 37, of 10 Carty Court in Columbia — were arrested for minor offenses and transported to the Fairfield County Detention Center.
The timing couldn’t have been better.
A few hours later, the Sheriff’s Office received a call that JFI had been broken into during the night. Among the items taken were tools worth $5,000, which deputies recalled seeing in the back of the Dodge pickup truck. Also stolen was copper wire worth $1,000 that had been stripped from electrical panels. After executing a search warrant on the pickup truck, the victim was brought in and was able to identify the stolen items.
An investigation by the Sheriff’s Office led them to two more Columbia men — Christopher Moore, 26, of 512 South Highland Forest Drive and Brodrick Carolina, 23, of Wilmette Road.
The Sheriff’s Office said they believe that these four individuals are part of an organization that is responsible for committing similar crimes at other locations in Fairfield County, including incidents on April 7 and April 8 at Perry Ellis on the Highway 321 Bypass, as well as outside of Fairfield County, costing these businesses hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage in addition to the value of the items stolen.
Clark has been charged with two counts of second-degree burglary, two counts of third-degree burglary, two counts of grand larceny and one count of malicious injury to personal property.
Francis has been charged with second-degree burglary, grand larceny and malicious injury to personal property.
Moore has been charged with two counts of third-degree burglary and accessory to burglary.
Carolina has been charged with second-degree burglary, grand larceny and malicious injury to personal property.
The Sheriff’s Office said they plan to interview several more persons of interest and expect to make more arrests in the near future. Sheriff Herman Young said he plans to work closely with surrounding law enforcement agencies to determine if these individuals are responsible for any crimes in those areas.