Burglaries 3/15/13

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 15, 2013

Investigators: trail went cold after burglars struck Pope churches

By John Howell Sr.

Flat-screen TVs and guns are keeping burglars in business and keeping the Panola County Sheriff’s Department busy.

That’s according to deputies who receive two or three calls a week — often more, Investigator Jason Chrestman said — and sometimes so frequently that a new burglary is reported before deputies have finished investigating an earlier complaint.

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Deputy Lt. Billy Lambert and investigators Bryan Arnold, Jason Chrestman and Edward Dixon sat down Thursday morning to discuss what they know and don’t know about burglars targeting Panola homes.
During February, burglaries were regularly reported in the south part of the county on Leslie Road, Highway 51 South, “all close to the Yalobusha County line,” Lambert said.

They occurred at various hours of the day or night. The burglars used various methods of forced entry: “kicking down a door, prying it open, breaking out a window and going through,” Chrestman said.

Burglars, victims neighbors?
In some cases, officers suspect that the burglars know their victims. “They know what’s in there; they know their schedule,” Chrestman continued.

The common thread to most burglaries is that thieves have recently targeted flat-screen TVs and guns, “because they know that’s what they can get rid of,” he said.

Investigators suspect that some of the stolen merchandise is being sold to friends — a flat-screen TV for $25 to $100, for instance, Chrestman said.

“The people that buy them aren’t going to call us,” the deputy said, “but some of their friends might.”
That information could be worth money, he said, either by calling Crime Stoppers of North Central Mississippi at 1-800-729-2169 or by calling any officer at the Panola County Sheriff’s Department, 563-6230. “It will remain anonymous either way,” Investigator Edward Dixon said.

How much cash?

How much money depends on the value of the information, Dixon continued. “It has to lead to an arrest and sometimes to a conviction, depending on the circumstances of the case.”

At times, would-be informants provide too little information. “Sometimes all they give us is a name. We need a little more information so we’ll have a reason to pick him up,” Dixon said. The caller does not have to give his or her own name, he said.

“Neighbors are not supposed to be like this, but they don’t want to get involved,” Dixon continued. “But put yourself in their (the victim’s) shoes. If it was you, you’d want them to get involved.”

Case growing cold
There was another case on officers’ minds —this one fast growing cold.

On October 31 last year, during a windy, stormy night, burglars struck two churches less than a mile apart at Pope.

At Hosanna Church on Hentz Road, the burglars took a safe, lap top computer, musical instruments and sound boards, among other items, and extensively vandalized the building’s interior. At Springhill M.B. Church on Dogwood Lane in Pope, burglars entered the building and took only a safe, Dixon said.

After exhausting leads that had initially appeared promising, the investigators are making an appeal to the public.

“In most of your crimes, somebody sees something,” Dixon said.

In the two Oct. 31, 2012, church burglaries, it might have been a van or truck large enough to haul the stolen loot.

“The thing that stings me is that these were so close,” Dixon said.

Anyone with information can provide it without giving their names. Crimes Stoppers, 1-800-729-2169; sheriff’s department, 563-6230.