Doughnuts and cops and a many-time felon’s appetite for stealing from hotel customers during continental breakfast have apparently come together in real life to solve a crime ring with tentacles reaching the South Carolina coast.
A quick acting motel clerk and alert crime analyst combined with officers Thursday to make arrests and recover stolen merchandise, said Mark Bollinger, spokesman for the Rock Hill Police Department.
Here’s how a numbers cruncher and late-night desk clerk and the doughnuts of a continental breakfast teamed up to make the bust:
Rock Hill crime analyst Damien Williams, going over recent Rock Hill hotel theft reports, noticed that the connection at area hotels noticed a pattern of theft while customers were out at breakfast, Bollinger said. Customers at the Marriott and Hampton Inn had been robbed, reports show, and Williams saw the trend.
Williams contacted other Carolinas police departments and two department remembered the common method of a guy who recently got out of prison for similar crimes.
That man’s name is Eric Lavan Lokey. And minutes before midnight Wednesday, Lokey was standing right in front of the clerk at the Quality Inn & Suites, police reports and records show.
Lokey was arrested in Cornelius, N.C. on Dec. 29, Mecklenburg County arrest records show. He has many, many other arrests, too.
Lokey, 50, from Orangeburg and other places according to court records, is a many-time convicted felon who has a criminal history of burglaries, larceny, forgery and credit card fraud that dates back to 1991, State Law Enforcement Division records show. His most recent stop in the state penitentiaries among several prison stretches was for violating parole after a 10-year sentence for burglary and other crimes in Charleston back in 2003. In those cases Lokey was a suspect in dozens of hotel break-ins, including brazen crimes of stealing credit cards and other items while hotel clients were eating complimentary continental breakfasts at hotels.
Just like Rock Hill the past week.
After the alert from Williams the crime analyst who connected the local crimes, the clerk at Rock Hill’s Quality Inn using a tool called Rock Hill York County Connect - a type of crimewatch for businesses interactive computer system that works with the county visitor’s authority - called police to say that Lokey was in the lobby.
Police arrived and arrested Lokey immediately, then found out that Folly Beach police near Charleston had warrants for his arrest for similar crimes. But the clerk did even more - she identified the getaway car that Lokey had arrived in.
The alert clerk told police Lokey had been dropped off by a man driving a white truck, and police found John Eric Cape in a truck that was in the parking lot. Cape refused to allow police to search the truck so officers had to get a search warrant, an incident report shows.
Armed with the warrant, police found illegal amphetamines in the truck, as well as a shaving bag filled with jewelry and hearing aids. Officers also found computer equipment and a printout of Jacksonville, Fla. area hotels. Some of the jewelry was from recent Rock Hill break-ins, police said. Lokey had credit cards in his possession that had someone else’s name on them, police said in incident reports.
Both Lokey, 50, and Cape, 48, are being held on multiple charges including burglary and conspiracy and felony drug possession.
Detectives are still working on the case, Bollinger said.
“We are still working to place recovered items with burglaries in the city, and even the region,” Bollinger said. “This was good police work and great cooperation.”
And doughnuts and cops, too.