Authorities recover thousands of dollars’ worth of stolen goods

Published 11:35 am Thursday, June 1, 2017

The belongings of summer travelers along I-65 are a bit safer now, thanks to local authorities.

Kevin Neal Phillips, a 23-year-old white male from Georgiana, and James Kendrick Thomas, a 24-year-old white male from Greenville, have been linked to a string of thefts that have occurred along the interstate throughout the past two weeks. The duo was charged with four counts of unlawful breaking and entering a motor vehicle and six counts of fourth-degree theft of property.

According to Greenville Police Department chief Justin Lovvorn, the department’s investigation division had been looking into the string of thefts for some time on the heels of several reports of Yeti coolers, firearms and other miscellaneous items being taken from vehicles while parked in areas around the interstate.

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The thefts weren’t necessarily due to the owners’ carelessness, Lovvorn said.

“Many of the coolers were secured in the bed of a truck by a cable,” he said. “The suspects would cut the cable and then take the cooler from the truck.”

Lt. Joseph Disney received information that one of the stolen coolers was posted online for sale, at which point he conducted an undercover buy for the cooler and was able to identify and arrest Phillips and Thomas for their involvement in the theft ring.

“He then obtained a consent to search of the suspects’ residence and located and recovered $5,000 worth of stolen goods, which included 13 Yeti-type coolers, four power saws, one set of golf clubs and a large amount of assorted tools,” Lovvorn added.

All of the discovered items appeared to have been stolen from the Greenville area during a two-week period.

More charges are pending as the Greenville Police Department continues to sort out from where each piece of stolen property was taken.

In a second, unrelated case, L.C. Hinson Jr., a 21-year-old black male from Greenville, was charged with third-degree burglary Tuesday following a Saturday burglary of an Oliver Street residence.

The victim of the burglary told Greenville Police Department investigators that an unknown suspect or suspects entered the home via window and stole property valuing more than $2,000, which included four flat-screen televisions, and two video game consoles—a PlayStation 4 and an Xbox One.

Lovvorn said that it didn’t take long for the department to find a suspect.

“Lt. Disney investigated the crime and was able to develop a suspect within 24 hours,” he said. “He was able to obtain a search warrant on Sunday for a house where his suspect was reported to be living.

Disney was able to recover one of the stolen flat-screen televisions and the Xbox One console at that location, though the suspect was not home at the time.

After a conversation with the suspect’s relatives, they agreed to help recover the remainder of the stolen items.

Tuesday, the rest of the stolen items were turned over to Butler County sheriff Kenny Harden and then transferred over to Disney.

It was then that Disney located and arrested Hinson.

Authorities added that Disney developed two more suspects believed to have taken part in the crime and more arrests are pending.

“The Greenville Police Department would like to thank Sheriff Kenny Harden for his assistance in taking custody of the stolen property for us,” Lovvorn said. “And thanks to Lt. Disney for his tireless efforts to solve these two crimes and recover the victim’s property in each crime in such a short amount of time.”