Crime Stoppers

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 11, 2011

‘Stoppers asks for help after burglary

By John Howell Sr.

Barbara Hardin places her loss at $80,000.

It started last November at her house on Pine Lake Drive. Thieves stripped the house of anything that could be converted to cash — the wall-mounted Vanguard heaters, the central heat and air units, appliances, the lawn mower and power tools. Later, apparently, vandals struck, breaking dishes, windows, knocking big holes in sheetrock walls and such other destruction to reduce the house where Hardin’s son once lived to a worthless shell.

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Occurred in remote area

Pine Lake Drive and South Pine Lake Drive skirt the lake from which they get their name. It’s on the far eastern edge of Panola County in the Sardis Lake Estates area where weekend vacation homes and semi-permanent campers alternate with residences occupied full time.

Neighbors have also been victimized by the ongoing vandalism.

The area’s remote location and the lack of leads have led Panola County Crime Stoppers to select the Pine Lake vandalism as its first featured “Crime of the Week.”

Crime Stoppers of North Central Mississippi is affiliated with the international Crime Stoppers organization. It offers cash rewards for tips that lead to arrests for crime. People calling Crime Stoppers do not have to give their names. If the information leads to an arrest, the person providing the tip can receive a cash reward.

“The tip has to pan out and lead to an arrest,” said Crime Stoppers board member Shirley Trimm.

“It’s not limited to one crime,” Panola Deputy Sheriff and Crime Stoppers coordinator Carlton Hays III said. “It could be anything, even a crime we don’t know about.”

Anyone with information about the Pine Lake Road area thefts and vandalism, or any other criminal activity, is urged to call 800-729-2169. The information could bring a cash reward.

Little to go on

Authorities have little information about the Pine Lake Road incidents. That’s why they need help from the public.

People in the area reported seeing two Hispanic males and one Caucasian male in a pickup near the Hardin house around the time that it was burglarized last November. The vandalism apparently at the Hardin house and other property in the area came afterwards and is thought among neighbors to have been committed by people living in the area.

Hardin’s home had belonged to her son, who became disabled. When he went to live with her, she bought the home from him. Her insurance would not cover the losses because it was an unoccupied dwelling. The cost of restoring the structure for market exceeded its potential value, she said. The $80,000 estimate that Hardin attaches to her loss is probably conservative.

“The reality is that someone in this area is, in essence, ‘robbing’ people of a lot of money in their real estate values,” said another neighbor who asked to remain anonymous.

Add that to the cost of the vandalism in the Pine Lake Drive neighborhood: living with fear of becoming the next victim.

If you can help, call 800-729-2169. Because it’s the right thing to do. And it could earn you cash.