Businesses relieved burglary suspect caught - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Businesses relieved burglary suspect caught

December 20, 2004

Tifton-"I'm very relieved," says Dixie Food Store clerk Levenia Harnage. She can work with a little less stress now that investigators have arrested a burglary suspect.

"For approximately the last two and half, three weeks the Tifton Police Department has been conducting undercover surveillance at many of the businesses here in Tifton," says Detective Melissa Wood of the Tifton Police Department.

Tift County deputies were staking out business too, and Friday they caught 30 year old Calvin Ronell Simmons red-handed. Deputies were waiting inside a Chevron convenience store when Simmons broke in. It's the same store they say he's robbed four separate times.

Now Harnage is hoping evidence will link Simmons to the two burglaries at her store.

"They broke the door, came straight in, got cigarettes, got him a couple beers and hit the door," Harnage says. "I'm hoping it will be the same man that's been doing all of them."

"The Tift County Sheriff's Department did actually arrest a suspect, and we have a feeling that he is of course connected to our burglaries," says Wood.

Tifton police have investigated more than 80 burglaries since the first part of October, but since Simmons was arrested Friday, there haven't been any.

Still, Harnage is offering a word of advice for businesses. "Keep up your guard. Don't let it down, cause you don't ever know who else is out there," she says.

The Tift County Sheriff's Department charged Simmons with five burglaries but may charge him with up to ten more. That does not include charges he may face if DNA evidence links him to burglaries investigated by Tifton Police officers.

Not only is the burglary arrest relieving a big headache for Tifton and Tift County law enforcers, it may also help businesses save money.

Glass doors and windows were broken during many of the burglaries, forcing owners to fork over hundreds of dollars for repairs. That cost the stores much more than the few packs of cigarettes and small amount cash the burglar got away with.

"Now for the regular door and to install probably a couple of hundred dollars, and then after hours we would charge a service call for that, so you're looking roughly at between $200, $300," says Verena Batts of Batts Glass and Mirror.

Batts Glass and Mirror replaced doors and windows in more than a half dozen of the burglaries. Owners say the rash of break-ins made this year one of their busiest yet.

Posted at 4:30 PM by elaine.armstrong@walb.com