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Home  |  News  |  Thieves caught in the act, but the charges were dropped

Thieves caught in the act, but the charges were dropped
Friday, July 22, 2011


LUGOFF, SC (WIS) - A Kershaw County salvage yard owner is out thousands of dollars after he says thieves got off when an investigator didn't show for court. The new sheriff re-opened the case months ago, but the suspects will never face the charges again.

"This is one of the sections of fence right here where they cut and came in a time or two," said Jim burr of Sandhill Auto Parts. "We'd have to try and tie it back together, you know. A fence is only going to stop an honest man, anyway."

Burr opened Sandhill Auto Parts 31 years ago, but last year he noticed thousands of dollars in parts walking away. The thieves kept cutting his fence and helping themselves to his salvaged parts.

"Cut the fence and tie the fence back together, so you really couldn't see where they'd come in or not," said Burr. "So two or three times we knew we had stuff missing, we just didn't know where it went to."

Around Mothers Day in 2010, burr noticed the perps started targeting one truck in particular. Burr put up an alarm system, and got a call from the Kershaw County Sheriff's Office early one morning. Deputies caught two men and their pickup inside the salvage yard.

"The truck was sitting right here, and they had cut the fence right here in the gate and by the time the sheriff's department got here on the silent alarm, they'd already had some tires and wheels stacked up in the back of their truck out from under the shed from down the hill there," said Burr.

The report shows when deputies rolled up, the suspects' truck engine was still warm when deputies say Brandon Windham and Brandon Gamble walked up and surrendered.

"These guys were caught dead to rights," said Sheriff Jim Matthews. "They would have had no choice but to plead guilty to this."

But a judge dropped the case after the lead investigator, former sheriff's investigator Mike Carrell, didn't show up for court. Burr says he never knew about the court date, and only found out the case was dropped when the suspects' truck wasn't sitting in the former sheriff's impound yard anymore.

After taking office in January, Matthews had an investigator re-open the case and re-interview Gamble and Windham. Investigators say they got confessions from the men, and went to the solicitor for warrants. "Because of double jeopardy, he was unable to do so," said Matthews.

"Basically telling me tough luck, that's what they're telling me and what it's going to be," said Burr. "It's going to be tough luck if they show back up here and I catch them."

Burr estimates he lost $15,000 in parts during the break-ins. The sheriff's office has added two more victims advocates to the staff in hopes to never have another victim miss a court date again.

Source: http://www.wistv.com/story/15126997/theives-caught-in-the-act-but-the-charges-were-dropped

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