Arrests last week of five suspects charged in a burglary near Floyd Road has resulted in clearing 26 burglary and theft cases in east and north Columbus, police said Tuesday.
Lt. Steve Cox, who is in charge of the burglary and theft unit, assigned about a dozen detectives to a detail last week focusing on the rash of recent burglaries. The result was the arrest last Wednesday of Laquinton Robinson, 22, Rickey Henderson, 19, Jacobee Matthews, 20, Demon Moore, 20, and Emmanuel Williams, 18. All face charges of burglary, theft by receiving stolen property, theft by receiving stolen vehicle and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.
“Since that day we have been able to connect them — or a faction of them — to 26 burglaries,” Cox said.
The charges in the additional thefts are pending as the investigation continues, Cox said. “We expect to make at least three more arrests,” Cox said.
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Police also expect to clear additional cases as the investigation continues. Detectives worked the Veterans Day holiday to continue to build the cases, Cox said.
“We are in the early stages of this investigation,” Cox said. “Right now, we have recovered more than $45,000 in stolen vehicles, flat-screen TVs, jewelry, guns and other assorted items. This is going to take some time.”
Among the areas where the thefts occurred were Macon Road, Blue Ridge Drive, Hilldale Drive, Blanchfield Drive, Treetop Drive, Will Rhodes Drive and Junaluska Drive, Cox said.
According to a release from Mayor Teresa Tomlinson’s office, Columbus is experiencing a significant spike in break-ins this year compared to last. In the third quarter of 2012, the Police Department reported 1,919. This year, the department has seen 2,400 burglaries — nearly 500 more. Those incidents add up to a 25 percent increase over the same quarter in 2012.
Chief Ricky Boren credited “outstanding police work by the detectives” in cracking the ring.
“We have a couple of priorities right now,” Boren said. “We have extra folks looking into some of these armed robberies as well as the burglaries in the residential areas. And we will continue to do this through the holiday season.”
Boren said the extra focus has been ongoing for about three weeks.
In addition to the extra manpower, the department is also using intelligence-generated policing concepts, Boren said. Sgt. Roderick Graham is in charge of that detail, Boren said.
“We are using historical information, statistical data as well as probabilities as to where there may be burglaries or armed robberies,” Boren said.
In the most recent break, the five suspects were in Recorder’s Court on Friday. According to testimony, the string of burglaries the five are accused of, which stretch between September and November, ended abruptly when on Wednesday a construction worker in a neighborhood near David Court reported a suspicious vehicle. He told officers a grey Acura was driving slowly through the alcove, and seemed to be looking for unoccupied houses.
Police said the tipster was unaware that the suspects were allegedly leaving the scene of their latest burglary, where they swiped a TV, computer and jewelry from the David Court home, located off Whitesville Road. A 2010 Nissan Maxima was also taken from the residence.
Officers later found the Maxima at the 1024 Veterans Parkway Econo Lodge. Police responded to the motel, to find an unknown person circling the Maxima between the Econo Lodge and a nearby gas station. When the driver saw officers, he allegedly sped off and led some investigators on a chase down Veterans Parkway, ending with a wreck at an unnamed apartment complex downtown.
The car was found abandoned.
While officers chased the driver of the Maxima, others stayed behind to confront the occupants of two rooms — Robinson, Matthews and Henderson.
On entering the room, police found an assortment of stolen goods and contraband. Some of the haul included large flat screen TVs, Samsung and iPhone cellphones, a Playstation 3 and the keys to the grey Acura.
Three guns — all loaded and some stolen — were recovered inside the hotel room as well, along with 160.8 grams of marijuana, hidden behind the toilet.
Matthews told the court that no one in the arrested group was responsible for the burglaries. He explained their presence in the hotel by saying they were occupying the space for a cousin — who, in turn, were occupying it for someone else.
“My cousin, someone offered him $100 to rent the room,” Matthews said. “He’s got kids; how could he say no? But we were just in there smoking marijuana, smoking with each other and having a good time. We didn’t take anything from anyone.”