County part of theft ring investigation

Published 9:50 pm Monday, December 24, 2007

By By Lisa Tindell – news editor
A Silverhill couple has been arrested in connection with stolen items taken from Escambia and Baldwin counties as well as Flomaton in a rash of burglaries that spans even into the northwest Florida area.
Bret Helton, 53, and Rita Helton, 51, both of Silverhill, were arrested and charged with receiving stolen property, first degree. The couple are the parents of a juvenile previously arrested in connection with the burglaries.
Investigators with the Escambia County Sheriff's department assisted law enforcement officers in Baldwin County to make the arrest, Escambia County Sheriff Grover Smith said.
The search warrant was conducted at 16040 South Ave. and at a storage united in Silverhill.
The warrant was a follow up to an ongoing investigation initiated by the Foley Police Department that resulted in the arrest of two juveniles.
The teens, whose names were not released because of their age, have been linked to as many as 20 burglaries over the past three months in across south Alabama and northwest Florida.
Officers recovered five tree stands, two McPhearson bows and numerous other items, Smith said.
In a related case, officers with the Escambia County Sheriff's Office and Flomaton Police Department assisted Baldwin Count and Escambia County, Fla., law enforcement officials with a search of a Molino, Fla. residence.
The property recovered on Tuesday included computers, lawn equipment, hunting equipment and apparel, stereo equipment, fishing equipment, power and hand tools, a 300 gallon fuel tank and an ATV.
The value of the property recovered is in excess of $15,000 Baldwin County officials said.
The estimated value of property recovered during the ongoing investigation is well in excess of $100,000.
Owners of the recovered property have been identified and most of the property has been returned.
The investigation is continuing and additional property and victims are expected to be identified.
Other arrests are also expected in the case, Smith said.