Neighbors help solve 30+ thefts

By Andy Jenks - bio | email

Posted by Terry Alexander - email

POWHATAN, VA (WWBT) - For the past eighteen months, neighbors in certain parts of Powhatan county have gone to bed, unsure if their stuff would be there in the morning. Tonight they can rest a little easier.

It started, with one little piece of paper. "Beware the beer thief". After this went out, neighbors came out of the woodwork with clues.

"And he come through the side door. And basically goes to the icebox," said Murphy Comardelle.

Murphy Comardelle is known for throwing parties. And with all those Omaha steaks in the freezer, he was kind of surprised to see what was missing.

"You buy all these steaks and stuff. He don't want no steaks. They wanted beer!" said Murphy.

Twice, over ten days, about two cases of beer were stolen from his unlocked garage. So he wrote up a flyer and gave it to everyone he knows.

"And all the neighbors started calling me. And saying, hey we lost our garmin this night, we lost our wallet. One neighbor calls up, says, he took all the coins out of the ashtray, sat in the truck, smoked a cigarette, took all the coins out and left the pennies!" said Murphy.

Neighbors then got in touch with detectives, who caught an area teenager with the stolen goods three days later.

"The community has stepped up and definitely helped us solve a lot of these cases," said Powhatan Sheriff's Office Master Detective Jason Tackett.

The thefts from homes and cars in Butterwood are just the latest in what's been an unusual spike in Powhatan dating back eighteen months. Thieves have also hit cars in "Chestnut Oaks", and "Hillenwood". And so far, nine teenagers have been arrested for at least thirty incidents.

"They've all referred to this as "car hopping" almost as if it was a game," said Tackett. "We're actively gonna investigate these cases and prosecute them."

That's good enough for Murphy, where party supplies, are already coming back.

"It's a wake up call for the neighborhood. In a sense, we all looking, when we hear the dogs bark, we need to get out more," said Murphy.

Stealing more than $200 worth of stuff makes it a felony. And some of the teens now face possible time in juvenile detention.

(c) 2009. WWBT, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.