Seven charged, two sought in break-ins
A two and a half month investigation led to the arrest of seven suspects involved in a string of vehicle break-ins.
The Union County Sheriff's Office is still looking for two additional people in connection with the crimes.
During the past two and a half months, the Union County Sheriff's Office investigated 58 car break-ins where various items were stolen at night from unlocked cars, according to a statement from the Union County Sheriff's Office.
Sheriff's Office detectives along with members of the Stallings and Matthews police departments, worked to investigate the break-ins and develop suspects on the west side of the county.
"We had a tip from Matthews," Chief M.E. Plyler of the Stallings Police Department said.
A lot of the break-ins in the Stallings area happened on the north side of the town and involved unlocked vehicles, he said.
The other break-ins were reported in the Unionville, Fairview, New Salem, Weddington, Marvin and Indian Trail areas. Unionville, Fairview and New Salem (north side of the county) had the largest number of break-ins with 44. Fourteen of the break-ins happened in Weddington, Marvin and Indian Trail, according to the Sheriff's Office statement.
The individuals charged in connection with the break-ins on the north side of the county were Timothy Steven Johnson, Larry Alexander Nail, Robert Morrow, III and Joshua Franklin Stewart. Those arrested in connection with break-ins on the west side of the county were Tyler Anthony Milner, John James Bocek and Trenton Gregory Jones. Zohaib Ali Khan and Daniel Chad Floto are still wanted in connection with the break-ins. Khan's last known address is 2107 Baggins Lane, Charlotte while Floto's last known address is 9508 Prestbury Boulevard, Charlotte. Warrants have been issued for both Khan and Floto, according to the statement.
Specific items were not targeted in the vehicle break-ins but instead anything of value that was left in unlocked vehicles, Capt. Ronnie Whitaker of the Union County Sheriff's Office said.
Lori Kiker, a Sheriff's Office Crime Analyst, identified a pattern in the break-ins and was able to predict the likelihood of the next locations, times and targets. The Sheriff's Office patrol units were able to use the information to focus patrol efforts in those areas and during the times Kiker predicted. Sheriff's Detective Sergeant Ben Baker and Detective Chris Allen were able to identify the suspects in the vehicle break-ins that happened on the north side of the county and were able to recover stolen property. Total losses from the break-ins exceeded $29,000, according to the Sheriff's Office statement.
Sheriff Eddie Cathey praised the work of the agencies involved in the investigations but expressed frustration when it came to the cause of the crimes, according to the statement.
"In virtually all of these offenses, the thieves targeted unlocked cars with valuables left in them. The thefts would not have occurred and the resulting hundreds of hours in investigative resources could have been redirected to serious felony offenses had people simply removed their valuables and locked their cars," Sheriff Eddie Cathey said in the statement.
The investigation is still ongoing and more charges are anticipated.
Johnson was charged with 20 counts of break or enter a motor vehicle, six counts of felony larceny, four counts of larceny of a firearm and eight counts of misdemeanor larceny.
Nail was charged with 44 counts of break or enter motor vehicle, 12 counts of felony larceny, five counts of larceny of firearm and 23 counts of misdemeanor larceny.
Morrow was charged with two counts of felony receiving stolen goods and two counts of probation violation.
Stewart was charged with possession of stolen firearm.
Milner was charged with four counts of break or enter motor vehicle and four counts of misdemeanor larceny.
Bocek was charged with two counts of break or enter motor vehicle and two counts of misdemeanor larceny.
Jones was charged with 10 counts of break or enter motor vehicle, two counts of first-degree burglary and 10 counts of misdemeanor larceny.
Johnson and Milner were both placed under $75,000 bonds. Nail and Jones were placed under $150,000 bonds. Morrow was placed under a $20,000 bond. Stewart was placed under a $5,000 bond and Bocek was placed under a $77,500 bond, according to the Sheriff's Office statement.