Jasper Police have “heavily investigated” a string of commercial burglaries throughout the city during December, but have turned up no solid leads, according to Police Chief Greg Lovell.
During the past month, a person or people have kicked in doors or smashed windows to enter five Jasper businesses, stealing cash at four and cash and merchandise at a fifth.
Sweetie Pie’s Bakery, Pueblo Cantina, Nanny’s Kitchen, Tan 365 Salon and Fred’s were all hit with the same basic scenario of someone either kicking in a rear door or smashing a front glass and entering after the place had closed for the night.
Chief Lovell said there is nothing elaborate in the thefts. Thieves are finding rear doors not visible from the street and kicking them open.
When asked if he felt the same perpetrators were responsible for all of the crimes, the chief said, “We have a number of theories. I would say yes.” But he noted that while police first suspected criminals arrived on foot, the theft at the Pueblo Cantina (on the west side of Highway 515 and not an easy walk to the other stores) knocked out that pattern.
Sweetie’s Pies is near Fred’s, both on East Church Street; Nanny’s and Tan365 are both in the same North Main Street strip mall, with Pueblo Cantina, west of Highway 515 on Highway 53.
Lovell said crimes are harder to solve when the only thing stolen is cash. The hit at Fred’s on Christmas Day where 20 video games and 14 cartoons of cigarettes were among stolen loot was the first time anything except cash was taken.
Lovell said there is also a pattern with the heists coming on days of inclement weather. Sweetie Pies was robbed on the night of horrible ice conditions, December 15, with Fred’s and Pueblo Cantina robbed during the snowy Christmas holidays. The Nanny’s break-in occurred during a very rainy night.
The chief said perpetrators may be intentionally targeting commercial places during bad weather when police officers are tied up handling wrecks.
There have been no further burglaries since Christmas.
Lovell advised business owners not to leave cash overnight in their stores. He said these break-ins have been “heavily investigated” but with few leads thus far.
Detective Matt Dawkins said police were prepared to issue a warrant for a residential burglary suspect Monday, but this appeared unrelated to the commercial burglaries. Dawkins said the holiday may have led someone to commit the commercial burglaries for extra cash, but the city saw no increase in residential thefts.
He said police intend to issue a burglary warrant for one person already in jail. The same suspect is also connected with several burglary cases in the county. Dawkins did not release the name as the warrant had not yet been issued. But he said the suspect was already in the county jail on DUI and probation charges. “The DUI [arrest] started it; then we followed up on some other leads,” the detective said.
He said there is one other recent burglary in the city still under investigation. In this case, he said, an ATV and other items were stolen from a garage when the owners were out of town for the holidays, but the perpetrators had not broken into the house.
Dawkins asked everyone to report suspicious activity or any information they have on the commercial break-ins to the city’s crime watch numbers, 678-299-4115 or 678-299-4114.
These numbers go directly to patrolling Jasper police officers and should be used to report something suspicious, not an emergency. To report an emergency or a crime in progress, you should still call 911.