Fort Mill Times

Northern Fort Mill break-ins linked

A series of burglaries in neighborhoods in the northern end of the township are linked and may have connections to other burglaries in the Charlotte area, according to York County Sheriff's Office officials.

Since Nov. 21, at least four township homes have been burglarized by a group of three men working as a team, said Lt. Pat Kiefer, Commander of the sheriff's Fort Mill office. A home in Ashford on the Water and another in Beacon Knoll were hit Nov. 21. Two other homes in the Regent Park area were burglarized three days later.

The sheriff's office has at least two suspects - both Charlotte residents - they are looking to serve with arrest warrants.

"The detectives spent the last weekend looking for [one suspect] in Charlotte with no luck," Kiefer said. "We took a photo lineup to a victim that spotted them coming out of her house and she [identified] him right away."

Officers believe all four incidents are the work of the same crew of three burglars. All are reported to have been wearing their hair in long dreadlocks. The trio may also be linked to a string of similar break-ins in the Charlotte and Gastonia areas.

"The burglaries in Charlotte and Gastonia sound very similar. It's likely the same guys or group of guys," Kiefer said.

According to Kiefer, the alleged burglars are looking for unoccupied homes. Their standard operating procedure is to knock on doors and if they don't receive an answer, kick them in and loot the home of electronics and jewelry. The burglars also made off with a 9 mm Smith and Wesson handgun, a Remington 12 gauge shotgun and a Remington 700 BDL rifle with scope, in addition to nearly $2,000 worth of electronics and several pieces of jewelry from a house robbed on Saint Ives Court.

Officers have recovered the guns, Keifer said, and were able to link them to one of the suspects.

Following the Nov. 21 break-ins, one of which was foiled when the burglars fled after encountering the homeowner who was home at the time, they were seen driving a beige four-door Honda or Nissan. A sheriff's office deputy responding to the scene of the foiled break-in spotted and chased a gold Honda into North Carolina, but lost the suspects on I-485, according to a sheriff's office report.

Also, one of the victims of the Nov. 24 burglaries spotted the trio fleeing with armloads of items when she returned home. They were using a dark colored Honda Accord that day, according to Kiefer.

Anyone with information about the burglaries is asked to call Det. John Martin at 803-628-3059, or Crimestoppers at 1-877-409-4231.

Kiefer has also been sending updates about the case to homeowners associations in the township asking them to keep watch for similar suspicious activity in their neighborhoods.

"I've gotten a lot of feedback so far; A lot of neighborhoods are setting up watch programs," he said. "I've got lots of meetings lined up. I'm glad to see them come together like that."