Tis the season for thefts, sheriff’s office warns

From left, Winston County Sheriff Caleb Snoddy, Investigators Josh Edwards, Josh Bennett and Chief Deputy Jacob Eward with guns and other items confiscated.

NAUVOO     -  The arrest at gunpoint of a Nauvoo man found with three loaded firearms who allegedly tried to pull a gun on law enforcement, is a  grim reminder that the holiday season can also bring increased crime.
The Winston County Sheriff’s Office is sending out strong reminders to residents to carefully guard and monitor their homes, as well as keep a list of identification numbers for their electronics and other valuables, due to ongoing home burglaries and thefts.
Arrested in connection with the firearm incident was Joseph Peter Taylor, 51, of the 16000 block of Highway 195, Nauvoo, charged with certain persons prohibited from possessing a firearm after law enforcement learned he was a convicted felon on battery second degree from Louisiana, noted Sheriff’s Office Investigator Josh Edwards.

The case against Taylor remains under active investigation, as law enforcement are checking to see if items found on the four-wheeler he was riding were from homes in the area where residential break-ins have occurred on County Road 29, also known as Rocky Plains Road, Edwards stated.
At least two residential break-ins are being investigated, one occurring on Nov. 29, the other on Dec. 7.  The break-ins occurred within three miles of one another, Edwards noted.
No forced entry was made at either residence, with entry believed to have been made through the front door when occupants were not at home, investigators said.
In each case,  at least $1,000 to $2,000 worth of items were taken, Edwards stated.
On Monday, Dec. 11, sheriff’s officials were doing checks and stops at the intersection of county roads 29 and 21 in the Nauvoo area.  A trooper from the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, who was in the area, responded to the scene, when a blue Polaris four-wheeler driven by Taylor, who was not wearing a helmet, went down County Road 29, Edwards said.
Edwards and the trooper got in pursuit of the four-wheeler in an attempt of pulling it over, authorities said.
“He failed to do so for about half a mile,” said Edwards. “The trooper pulled in front of the four-wheeler to block him in. I was behind him.”
At this point, the four-wheeler was driven off the side of the road,  and Taylor tried to bail, but was immediately met by law enforcement from both sides, authorities said.
As the trooper was approaching Taylor, he moved back his coat, revealing a firearm strapped to his waist and made an attempt to retrieve it, when he was met at gun point by law enforcement, Edward stated.
While holding Taylor at gun point, law enforcement disarmed him of the loaded pistol--a Browning Buckmark stainless steel  22-caliber, law enforcement said.
A check on the serial numbers on the firearm determined it had been stolen from Montana, according to law enforcement.
A loaded 30-30, as well as a loaded 30-06 were found on the four-wheeler,  as well as a bag containing some Wii video games and a Wii gaming system, investigators said.
Taylor was taken into custody and transported to the Winston County Jail, Edwards said.

Residents need to be alert, mindful
of increasing thefts

Sheriff’s officials are urging residents to be alert to their surroundings and report any suspicious person, vehicle or activity--especially since crimes generally increase during the holiday season.
“Especially during the holidays, people need to be on the lookout,” stressed Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Jacob Eward. “They need to be more vigilant and secure their property.
“Don’t let people know you are not home,” Eward emphasized.
“If you see something, say something,” Edwards pointed out, “especially out in these rural areas.”
“Neighbors need to get with neighbors and watch our for each other,” Investigator Josh Bennett added.
So far, a firearm stolen from one of the residences is the only item the sheriff’s office has been able to recover, investigators said.
Identification numbers related to the firearm had been entered into the National Crime Information Network as well as a separate tracking system, which gave law enforcement specific information that the item had been sold at a pawn shop, Edwards explained.
“We get a lot of burglary reports that are really expensive stuff, but people don’t have serial numbers, they don’t have (vehicle identification) numbers, they don’t have anything,” Edwards pointed out.
“Unless the victim can testify or identify certain items by a distinctive marking that they made and placed on it, serial numbers are what we have to go by to identify that property belongs to that person,” Bennett added.
“It’s imperative that you keep up with identifying marks, serial numbers,” Bennett added. “Keep it in a locked box, a fireproof safe box.  Put them in the notes in your phone.”
Most crimes, whether they are break-ins or thefts, are linked back to drugs, according to Bennett.
“You have addicts who are looking for a high that don’t have the money, so they go steal your stuff and they either trade your stuff for narcotics or sell to the pawn shops,” Bennett pointed out.
“Burglaries aren’t going away because drugs aren’t going away,” Edwards noted. “Thefts aren’t going away because drugs aren’t going away.”
If a resident keeps a list of serial numbers, law enforcement can put those numbers into their system, which can give law enforcement better clues on how to track those items by knowing the time and place the item was pawned, as well as the identification of who pawned it, investigators continued.
Investigators also urge residents to put surveillance cameras on their property, even it its a deer camera, that will record any evidence of a suspicious person or activity.

*When a defendant is charged with a crime, the charge is merely an accusation until or unless the person is proven guilty in a court of law.


See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.
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