Rash of thefts ends in arrests

Published 2:00 am Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Four area men have been arrested and are facing charges connected to a rash of residential break-ins and thefts in Brewton, East Brewton and Florida, according to officials with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Department.
Arrested were Darrell J. Smith, 18, of 3125 Pea Ridge Road, Brewton; Brandon D. Smith, 27, of 2717 Pea Ridge Road, Brewton; Jalen J. Harrod, 19, of Rankin St., Andalusia; and Anthony C. Strength, 18, of 3575 Old Foshee Road, Flomaton.
Escambia County Chief Deputy Mike Lambert said the arrests were the result of good work by investigators and citizens in the community.
“Everyone just did a great job on this case,” Lambert said. “We had a lot of eyes out there and we are thankful for the help from the citizens in the community.”
The investigation that lead to the arrests — and to solving crimes in two states — began after homes in the Appleton community were targeted for burglaries recently.
Lambert said the evidence uncovered by investigators in this case led to a joint investigation with Brewton and East Brewton police departments. Those investigations resulted in several burglaries in those cities being solved. Other evidence pointed to the need for a joint investigation with Florida law enforcement officials.
Lambert said a joint investigation with officials with the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office resulted in solving 15 vehicle burglaries in that county.
The investigation has resulted in the arrest of the men as well as the recovery of 16 firearms, two televisions, laptop computers and other assorted stolen property, Lambert said.
Investigators followed a number of leads in the case that lead to the identification of multiple suspects who have been known to target citizens while they were at work or otherwise away from home, Lambert said.
Lambert said the concern among residents in the Appleton community was justified in this case.
“The residents there have been upset and that’s certainly understandable,” Lambert said. “I hope that these arrests will give them some peace about the situation. But, then again, we don’t want people to let their guard down too much. Even though we’ve made these arrests, there are always others out there who will be ready to step in and do the same thing.”
Lambert encouraged all area residents to take precautions and be on the alert for others who prey on items easily accessed.
“We hope that people will take this event and make more of an effort to protect and secure their belongings,” Lambert said. “We are also hoping that people will be more alert to their surroundings and make that 911 call if they see something out of the ordinary or something that just doesn’t look right. Anytime we can get a description of a suspect or vehicle and maybe a tag number, we have more to go on in stopping this sort of crime against our citizens.”
Escambia County Sheriff Grover Smith offered his praise to investigators and officers with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office, Brewton Police, East Brewton Police and the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office for their devotion and tireless efforts to solve these burglaries and recover the stolen property.
Lambert said additional arrests and/or indictments are anticipated in this case.