A nine-month investigation has resulted in the arrest of an alleged career vehicle break-in suspect.
Jimmy Stanley Thompson, 51, is under $278,500 secured bond in the Columbus county detention Center. The sheriff’s office charged Thompson with 50 felony counts of breaking and entering a motor vehicle, ten counts of larceny of a firearm, 26 counts of misdemeanor larceny, and one charge of felony larceny. His address was listed on jail documents as 3360 Happy Home Church Road.
Starting in June, the sheriff’s office said, detectives were called to a series of break-ins of vehicles across the Nakina area. Between June and March, 50 people reported everything from cigarettes and sunglasses to firearms stolen from vehicles. The thefts occurred along Old Tram Road, Ramsey Ford, Seven Creeks Highway, Manley Smith Road, Ervin T. Richardson, Pine Level church, MM Ray, Poley Bridge and New Britton Highway.
Investigators obtained hours of surveillance footage from Nakina citizens who assisted with the investigation. By utilizing the surveillance footage and hundreds of hours of investigative work, the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation Division was able to identify Thompson as a suspect in the break-ins.
Thompson would travel the listed areas on bicycle, during the early morning hours, the CCSO said. He would leave the bicycle in a ditch and approach the victims’ property on foot, searching for unlocked motor vehicles. Once he located an unlocked motor vehicle, he would search through the vehicle for items of value.
Shortly before daybreak Monday, a resident reported a suspicious person along seven Creeks Highway near Old Tram Road. The suspect matched Thompson’s description, and was carrying a large storage container, the CCSO said in a press release. Deputies located the suspect and attempted to stop him. Thompson threw the tote on the ground, put the bicycle in the ditch, and fled on foot. The storage container contained a large quantity of frozen meats. He was reportedly spotted later, walking on Seven Creeks Highway with wet pants and muddy clothing.
Detectives located Thompson at his residence at 3360 Happy Home Church Road in Nakina. Thompson consented to a search of his residence. Inside, investigators located five unopened packs of cigarettes that were stolen in a break-in earlier that day. The detectives also located evidence connecting him to the surveillance video.
Sheriff Jody Greene credited the citizens of Nakina and the members of their community watch.
“These citizens went above and beyond to assist Columbus County Sheriff’s Office with this investigation,” Greene said. “They also assisted the Sheriff’s Office in spreading awareness about the importance of removing valuables from motor vehicles and locking vehicle doors. Your assistance in this investigation was extremely valuable.
“These crimes were crimes of opportunity. The suspect in these break-ins chose targets that offered high reward with little effort. All of the items he took were left in unsecured vehicles.”
Greene also praised the criminal investigators that dedicated hundreds of hours to this investigation. “These men and women worked through weekends, holidays, sometimes all night long on this investigation,” Greene said. “We can all work together to stop crimes of opportunity by making it harder for criminals. Prevention is the key to protecting your personal property.”