One of the suspects in a two-month spree of smash-and-grab thefts from vehicles has turned himself in, and family and friends of both suspects have provided help that the Columbus Police Department said could solve most of the 38 break-ins.
Police received multiple calls from the public after The Republic published a March 1 news story on the crimes that included a photo of the suspects taken from surveillance video, police spokesman Lt. Matt Myers said.
Some calls came from the suspects’ families and friends, he said. He added that a number of callers close to the two suspects feel that cooperation with police might be the only way the men might get the help they need.
“We’re not saying that drugs were a motive with these two suspects, but when there are patterns of thefts, those responsible are often trying to either supply a drug habit or suffer from a mental illness,” Myers said. “Sometimes, the safest place to be is in jail.”
Lead Detective Tom Foust of the Columbus Police Department is collecting evidence and testimony regarding involvement of two suspects in 38 smash-and-grab thefts throughout January and February from vehicles in Columbus. Once that phase is complete, Foust will forward the materials to Bartholomew County Prosecutor Bill Nash, who will determine what charges, if any, will be filed in the case.
Myers said similar calls have been received during previous unrelated investigations, especially after the offenses were widely publicized.
But even Myers expressed surprise that one of those callers was the second suspect himself.
“He saw himself in the paper and talked to the detective, giving us further information,” Myers said. “He’s being cooperative.”
No charges have been filed, and no names are being released at this stage of the investigation.
Lead Detective Tom Foust is expected to soon provide all evidence and testimony to Bartholomew County Prosecutor Bill Nash, who will determine what charges, if any, will be filed in the case.
Myers said he doubts that Nash will be able to charge the two men with all of the smash-and-grab thefts that took place in January and February, when vehicle windows were broken to grab purses and other items. Most incidents took place during daylight.
In a number of cases, the thieves immediately racked up several charges on stolen debit and credit cards before an alert could be issued on them.
“We may not pinpoint every incident, but we have the ones identified in the stolen credit cards,” Myers said.
He said the smash-and-grab thefts ended after one suspect was jailed on unrelated charges and the other fled the area.
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