Columbus police have made eight arrests this week. News 3 has learned that they’ve cracked a teenage car burglary ring that has been operating for months primarily on the north end of town.
With the arrests, police have cleared 70 cases and other cases remain under investigation, Maj. J.D. Hawk said in an exclusive interview with News 3. Additional charges and arrests are expected.
Police say property valued at more than $36,000 has been recovered.
“We have had patrol officers and detectives out there working details just trying to catch these people,” Hawk said.
The break in the case came early Thursday when two men and a juvenile were apprehended by patrol officers in neighborhoods off Whitesville Road, Hawk said.
Jimmie Pritchett, 17, and Jalen Ballard, 18, were arrested along with the juvenile whose name has not been released. Pritchett and Ballard were each charged with two counts of entering an automobile, one count of loitering and prowling and one count of obstruction of a law enforcement officer. The charges against the juvenile, which is someone 16 years old or younger, were not specified.
The alleged break-ins by Pritchett, Ballard and the juvenile occurred on Tom Buk Tu Lane, Buckhorn Drive, Beaver Pond Drive, Adams Park Drive, and Doerun Drive.
Pritchett, Ballard and the juvenile were turned over to Property Crimes detectives Kevin Baldwin and Ryan Vardman who continued the investigation.
Police say The arrests of Pritchett, Ballard and the juvenile led to five more arrests — Dashawn Gosha, 19, Nakia Petty, 18, Marquelis Williams, 18, Elijah Smith, 17, and another juvenile.
Smith is facing mutiple charges of entering an automobile and theft by taking. They are connected to possible thefts at Barberito’s in The Landings, Houlihan’s Bar and Grill on Sidney Simmons Boulevard, the Columbus Civic Center and two local hotels. Police say an unnamed juvenile is facing charges connected with Smith’s arrest.
Gosha, Petty, and Williams are facing multiple counts of entering a vehicle, one count of possession of burglary tools, one count of possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime and one count of second-degree forgery.
Police claim Goshay, Petty and Williams are facing charges for targeting cars at local apartment complexes, including Cloister Apartments, Club Hill Apartments, and Hardaway Square Apartments.
When asked if this could solve 100 or more cases, Hawk said it was possible.
“They are not done investigating yet,” Hawk said. “There is different information to follow up on.”
Patrol officers discovered a 2014 Jeep that was reported stolen in Phenix City and have linked that vehicle to the suspects, police said.
The arrests are an important step in curtailing this kind of activity, Hawk said.
“It’s good for our investigators and patrol to come up with this catch,” Hawk said. “It will slow down some of the break-ins. I am not saying it’s going to wipe them out because I am sure there are other folks out there. And we know there are other folks out there. But it should slow it down a little bit as far of the car break-ins.”