The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

October 11, 2013

Rainelle chief: Lock vehicle doors

Following the late-night arrests of two Greenbrier County men who confessed to stealing from unlocked cars, Rainelle Police Department Chief J.P. Stevens warned residents Thursday that the days of leaving doors unlocked are gone.

Garry Wayne Martin, 24, and Jimmy Rush, 18, were arrested around 1 a.m. Thursday after they confessed to stealing around $1,200 in cash and goods from unlocked cars in the county, police said.

Thanks to a beer can, a backpack and a quick confession, police were able to recover most of the stolen items.

Martin was charged with 18 misdemeanor counts each of petit larceny, breaking and entering autos and conspiracy.

Rush was charged with 15 counts of the same charges.

“There may have been more vehicles involved,” Stevens said. “That’s all they could remember. They weren’t really breaking into cars,” he added. “They were going after the ones that were unlocked.

“Lock your car doors, because a lot of this stolen stuff could’ve been prevented.”

Events leading to the pair’s arrest started Tuesday afternoon when Stevens was patrolling a school zone in town. A man approached him and reported that somebody had been in his vehicle, said Stevens.

“He said he went to get into his car on Locust Street, and somebody had stolen his GPS and ransacked his car,” reported the chief.

Around 1 a.m. Wednesday, Deputy Charles Smith of the Greenbrier Sheriff’s Department was patrolling around Rainelle when he saw a park-ed van with its doors opened.

Getting back in his cruiser, the deputy had patrolled just a short distance when he spotted Martin and Rush walking along the road.

Smith noted that Martin was wearing a backpack. He didn’t detain the duo but radioed in a “call sheet” to the local 911 center, making a note of the incident in case any break-ins were reported in the area, said Stevens.

On his end, Stevens said, he didn’t have to wait long for more complaints.

“A lady comes in and reports her car ransacked and some tools stolen,” he said.

On another reported car break-in, the suspects had left a beer can, said Stevens.

A backpack filled with tools had been stolen from one of the vehicles.

Thanks to Smith’s call sheet, Stevens had the men’s names.

Rainelle police picked up Martin, while deputies brought Rush to headquarters for questioning.

When Stevens questioned the pair Wednesday afternoon, they at first denied knowledge of any crimes, he said.

“They said all they were doing was walking around,” reported Stevens.

When Stevens brought up the beer can — telling the young men he even knew what they’d been drinking — the pair confessed that they had entered unlocked cars around the area to find cash and that they had stolen other items, too.

“I said, ‘Just tell me how many cars do you know for sure you hit?’” said Stevens.

Martin admitted to 18 vehicles, while Rush could remember 15 for sure.

The number surprised Ste-vens, who had not received 15 reports of stolen items.

“A lot of the people don’t even know their cars were broken into,” he said. “But they will today.”

The stolen items, minus cash, were recovered from Martin’s apartment.

They were both arrested and taken to Southern Regional Jail early Thursday, in lieu of bond.

Stevens said Martin had a criminal history, but Rush had not had a criminal record prior to Thursday.

“This is his first go-around, and he started out good,” he added.

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