Rock Hill mosque burglary suspect ‘hustled and stole’ all his life

Antonio Anderson
Antonio Anderson Courtesy of Rock Hill Police

The 28-year-old Rock Hill man accused of breaking into the Masjid-al-Salaam Islamic Center mosque told a city bond judge on Tuesday afternoon that he’s never had a job and that he has “hustled and stole” all his life.

Police have charged Antonio Syvester Anderson of Summitt Street with second-degree burglary. He’s accused of taking a miter saw from the mosque last week, according to Rock Hill police records. His bond was set at $40,000.

When officers served arrest warrants on Anderson on Tuesday morning for the alleged burglary, he was already in jail for another charge – public disorderly intoxication.

Anderson said in Rock Hill court Tuesday afternoon that he plans to stay in jail because he has no intention of posting bail.

Because the crime he’s accused of is a felony, his trial will be held in York County’s general sessions court at the Moss Justice Detention Center in York. The charge carries up to 10 years in prison, if convicted.

“Just go ahead and send me to Moss Justice so I can go ahead and do the time,” Anderson told Ministerial Recorder Tanesha Lonergan, the bond judge. Criminal defendants are sometimes granted “time served” during sentencing hearings, which means inmates get credit for the time they’ve spent in jail awaiting trial.

Anderson’s initial appearance is scheduled for June 15. A trial date is set for July 14.

He told Lonergan he needs a public defender to represent him in court because he has no money and no job.

“Nobody never gave me a chance to work,” Anderson said. “You don’t give a person a chance to work, they’ll go out and rob and steal and do criminal stuff.”

Detectives say Anderson is responsible for the Friday daytime break-in at the mosque, which was captured on surveillance video. The police department released that video on Monday.

After making the footage public, tips came in to develop Anderson as a suspect, said Rock Hill police spokesman Mark Bollinger. A witness, Bollinger said, also saw the suspect leaving through the mosque’s front door on Main Street, with a miter saw in hand.

Officers recovered the saw, Bollinger said. Police say Anderson had sold the saw to construction workers who have since given it back.

In the surveillance video – captured by a camera recording activity outside the mosque’s back door – a suspect is seen shattering a window to unlock the door on Friday morning. The two-minute video shows the suspect repeatedly knocking the glass with a large rock then using his elbow to smash in the damaged window.

The suspect then reaches through the broken glass to unlock the door. The damage totaled about $500, police estimate.

Another surveillance camera captured the suspect leaving through the front door of the mosque, holding the miter saw.

On Tuesday, the mosque’s executive director said he’s happy Rock Hill officers solved the case quickly and that the building’s surveillance video cameras proved helpful. The area around the mosque – located on West Main Street, near downtown Rock Hill – is growing and crime needs to be kept in check, said mosque director James “Jumah” Moore.

Members of the mosque, Moore said, have been “doubly vigilant” since the burglary and he’s thankful for Rock Hill officers who stepped up patrol in the area.

State Law Enforcement Division records show that the man accused in the mosque burglary has been arrested in Rock Hill seven other times before this week. Anderson’s previous charges range from resisting arrest to stealing metal and petty larceny, according to SLED records.

In court Tuesday, Anderson hung his head as the judge read his warrant. A member of the mosque told the court that Anderson had been asked to stay away from the building before last week’s break-in.

Anderson “needs some help – more than to be put in a situation as being a criminal,” the member of the mosque said. He also said he owns the saw and that it’s worth about $50, not the estimated $200 listed on Anderson’s arrest warrant.

Anderson told the court that he’s not married, has no children, has no checking or savings account, has only worked “under the table,” does not own a car, and lives with his father.

“I’ve hustled and stole all my life,” Anderson said. “I don’t want to do it but I got to do what I got to do to live out here. It’s rough out here (when) you don’t have a good education.”

Also on Tuesday, Anderson entered a guilty plea on the public disorderly charge.

Anna Douglas •  803-329-4068