Clearing more than 80 percent of his cases and recovering more than $60,000 worth of stolen property were enough to recognize Police Cpl. Robert Nicholas, a detective in the Burglary & Theft Unit at the Columbus Police Department.
Nicholas, 37, was selected as the department's Officer of the Month for December, the first honor during his seven years on the job.
"It's nice to be recognized for the hard work that you do," he said. "It kind of helps to know that what you're doing is noticed, and that feels good."
From a burglary case that turned into an arson investigation to suspects charged in 54 car break-ins, Nicholas was described as a model investigator, said Police Sgt. Joe Weatherford, his supervisor.
"He has been a very positive asset to the division and an enthusiastic team player," he said.
Those skills were key in an August 2015 burglary investigation that ended three months later with the arrest of a woman and her husband.
Nicholas was able to determine the 10th Street burglary was a fraudulent report and both were charged with conspiracy, false report of a crime and insurance fraud.
In early October, Nicholas talked to juveniles who were arrested on a theft of a motor vehicle charge.
After interviewing two suspects, the juvenile confessed to committing 54 cases of entering an auto in north Columbus.
Serving on a detail with the Burglary & Theft Task Force, Nicholas was at the scene of a Magnolia Avenue home where the suspects pulled up in a stolen Chevy Silverado pickup.
A search of the home led to police clearing 10 burglaries and recovering $60,000 in property.
Results aren't always good in theft cases, but people are happy to get their property recovered.
"The most enjoyable part is when we recover property and give it back to the rightful owner," Nicholas said. "The look on people's faces is, 'You found my what.' That's a lot of fun."
In recovering the property, Nicholas said he didn't do anything that other men and women officers couldn't have done in the investigations.
"That is a tremendously hard working group of people," he said of his colleagues. "Sometimes, it's hard to be a police officer. There is a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking, but I always like to put out there for citizens that aren't in law enforcement that they understand that is a group of people that have a servant heart and truly love this town and people. They work so hard to make this a great community, every one of them."
At the urging of his wife, Nicholas left the retail industry to become a Columbus police officer and has never looked back.
"Being a police officer is something I always wanted to do and I'd always talked myself out of it," he said. "Career changes are hard. I didn't want to put myself through a career change, and my wife said just go and try it and not spend the rest or your life on what if. Once I knew I had that kind of support at home, I had to give it a shot. It is what I always wanted to do and I've never been happier."
Nicholas is a native of Hattiesburg, Miss. He and his wife have two girls.