DECATUR — A pair of burglars who targeted rural Decatur properties and stole $11,000 worth of tools and other items have been arrested, the Macon County Sheriff's Office said.
The haul of recovered property was so big after the arrests Wednesday morning that a sworn affidavit said a box truck had to be rented to move it all.
Writing in the affidavit, sheriff's Sgt. Dale Pope said the first burglary occurred March 21 when a home in the 7800 block of Gosnell Road was ransacked. Items taken from the house and its garage were valued at more than $8,000.
Pope said detectives took tire impressions and also recovered a mechanical part that apparently fell off the thieves’ vehicle. A description of a white van was developed during investigations of several more attempted burglaries March 23 and April 5 on Cornthwaite Road in Decatur and East Lewis Street in Niantic, where a total of $3,000 in tools was stolen.
By the evening of April 6, Pope said, deputies had stopped a white van in the 600 block of West Southside Drive. It was found to be filled with suspected stolen tools. The 35-year-old Decatur driver was arrested for having a revoked license, and the van was towed and stored.
Detectives said the tires' tread patterns matched the impressions taken at the March 21 burglary, and the dropped mechanical part matched the vehicle.
Detectives then listened in on the arrested man’s jail phone calls.
“He is heard speaking to a female about getting the van out of impound and selling the tools located inside to raise money,” Pope said. “The female told the male that once he was out of jail he needed to ‘hustle’ so that they can pay someone off.”
Pope said detectives watched the van after it was released April 17. Later that day, it was seen in the area of Oakley and the 600 block of Illini Road following several more burglaries.
After a traffic stop on Baltimore Road, a 36-year-old driver was arrested after the van was found filled with more stolen tools and goods. Pope said the man admitted to carrying out recent burglaries with the other man who, now out on bond, lived at a house in the 3500 block of East Greenhill Road.
A sheriff's office team raided the home that day and found in the house a garage filled with stolen goods, Pope said. The 35-year-old man and a woman, age 29, were found in a bedroom with three children and a glass pipe for smoking methamphetamine lying on the bed, Pope said. Deputies also seized a small bag of methamphetamine from a dresser, Pope said.
The 35-year-old man faces one preliminary charge of residential burglary, five counts of burglary and one count of criminal damage to property. His accused 36-year-old accomplice faces one charge of residential burglary, four counts of burglary and one count of criminal damage to property. The woman faces possession of stolen property and drug paraphernalia charges.
Preliminary charges are subject to review by the state's attorney’s office.