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Serial Decatur burglar denies yet more burglary charges

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DECATUR — Zollie L. Thomas, Decatur’s one-man burglary crime wave, was back in court Wednesday pleading not guilty to more burglary and theft charges.

This time Thomas, 63, is accused of breaking into a roofing company warehouse July 7 after using a crowbar to force a door. Giving evidence in Macon County Circuit Court, Decatur police Detective Jason Danner said he recognized Thomas from surveillance camera footage captured during the burglary.

“Det. Danner knew Thomas on sight from numerous prior police contacts,” Danner had said in a sworn affidavit. He goes on to list Thomas as having more than 10 previous convictions for burglary and theft.

Danner said Thomas was paroled from prison in January of 2020 and had since racked up six burglary charges in Macon County.

In May he had been released from the Macon County Jail after pleading guilty as part of a plea agreement covering three of those six burglary charges against him. The three other burglary charges — plus a charge of driving while intoxicated — were then dismissed as part of the deal, which also required Thomas to participate in drug court.

Danner said that since Thomas had gotten out of jail May 18, he has been arrested three times on new burglary charges, which he denies, including the latest charge from July 7.

Defense attorney Michelle Sanders asked Danner if any of the items reported stolen from the roofing warehouse had been recovered, and the detective said they had not. The attorney then asked if any of the surveillance footage, which had been disrupted after the system was disconnected during the burglary, had been preserved as evidence, and Danner said it had.

Judge Rodney Forbes ruled there was probable cause to try Thomas on the latest charges and assigned the case to Presiding Judge Thomas Griffith, who is already dealing with several of Thomas’s other outstanding cases. A pretrial hearing was set for Dec. 2.

Thomas remained held in the Macon County Jail on Wednesday night with bail set at $220,000, meaning he must post a bond of $22,000 to be released.

Contact Tony Reid at (217) 421-7977. Follow him on Twitter: @TonyJReid


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