Meridian Star

November 20, 2012

LCSD breaks up auto burglary, theft ring

By Brian Livingston / blivingston@themeridianstar.com
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —     Four out of five juveniles Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department authorities believe are responsible for a rash of automobile thefts and auto burglaries over the past two weeks have been arrested and charged in the investigation.

    LCSD Chief Deputy Ward Calhoun said because those involved are all juveniles and will be processed through the Lauderdale County Juvenile Court system, their names cannot be released. Nonetheless, Calhoun said this was a major breakup of a group who have plagued county residents in recent weeks.

    "The investigation is ongoing and we still have one subject out there we are trying to locate but we are pleased with the results of this case so far," said Calhoun Monday afternoon. "We are confident we will have everyone involved in custody soon."

    Calhoun said one juvenile was arrested Saturday and that two more followed Sunday. He said the fourth was taken into custody Monday morning.

    For about two weeks, residents in the Van Zyverden, Pine Springs Road and Briarwood areas of the county have been waking up to find either their vehicles ransacked or missing. Calhoun said Monday, in cooperation with authorities with the Marion and Meridian police departments, in the last 36 hours investigators were able to get a handle on the subjects.

    "One of the big developments was the apprehension of one individual by Marion Police Department officers this weekend," said Calhoun. "It is so important to have the working relationship with area agencies and the general public to help us catch these types of subjects as quickly as possible."

    Calhoun said five cars total were reported stolen this weekend. He said all the cars have been recovered with most of the property that was inside each one of them returned to the owners. The aspect of the case that does leave Calhoun and other law enforcement agency personnel with some concern is that in all five stolen car incidents the keys were left in the vehicles.

    "We, as law enforcement, cannot impress upon the general public enough the importance of removing all your valuables from your vehicle and above all else, don't leave your keys in the car," Calhoun said.

    Calhoun said the investigation revealed the incidents began as auto burglaries but because keys were left in the cars, the subjects decided to "borrow" the cars to travel to other locations to continue their spree. After a short while the cars were left by the subjects.

    "Consider this," said Calhoun. "You have your purse or wallet in the car and someone finds it. Your ID, credit cards and social security numbers are in there. These people could steal your identity or worse, sell the information to someone who really knows how to mess up your life. That is just one reason why it is important to remove everything from your car."

    And Calhoun said he didn't want to think about someone leaving a laptop in the car with all the information it can contain.