The Andalusia Police Department says it has arrested a man and closed numerous property crime cases dating over a two year span from July 2011 to June 2013.
Police say a neighbor with a keen eye is to thank for helping them bust a large burglary ring. An investigation started September 9 after police say a citizen noticed a "kids" ATV located next to the home at 300 Camelia Avenue. The citizen had reported his children's ATV stolen in August 2012. At that time there were no leads or suspects in the case. After seeing the ATV, the citizen contacted the police department and reported his suspicion.
Investigators from the Andalusia Police Dept. went to the residence, got permission to compare the serial number on the report with the serial number on the ATV, and confirmed they were the same.
Police say it was at that point their investigation took "an unexpected turn."
While working the case of the suspicious ATV, investigators noticed numerous items in the yard they thought were out of the ordinary just by their sheer numbers. The investigators, working off the thought that most people don't have more than one lawn mower, weed eater, chain saw or ATV, became suspicious.
Police say the owner of the ATV had spoken to a friend who also mentioned that they'd noticed some items missing from their Camelia Ave. home, though they had not filed a police report. One of the items he said he was missing was a fan, a type usually referred to as a "squirrel cage" fan.
Police recalled earlier that the suspect, Terry Lee German, 40, had requested to change clothes before going to the police department for questioning about the ATV. While escorting him into his home, investigators noticed a fan very similar to the "squirrel cage" fan in the hallway of the residence.
Investigators with APD brought open case reports to German's home so they could compare serial numbers on some of the other items that were outside of the residence. After recalling seeing the fan in the residence and confirming serial numbers on some of the items outside, a search warrant was obtained.
By the time officers left the residence, they'd filled two utility trailers with stolen property. The items included the child's ATV, a boat, weed eaters, chain saws, lawn mowers, furniture, floor covering, ceiling fans, lamps, tables, and swings.
Investigators say the vast majority of the owners of the property have been identified and the process of searching for reports that include the type of items for which ownership has not yet been identified is now underway.
The areas where these crimes occurred were:
1st Avenue near the High School
2nd Avenue near the High School
South Cotton Street
German is now facing numerous charges including 11 counts of burglary in the 3rd degree, 1 count of breaking and entering a motor vehicle and 15 counts of theft of property in the 1st, 2nd and 3d degrees. He's being held on a bond totaling more than $342,000.
Authorities say the investigation continues and more charges against German could be brought in the near future. And they add German won't be alone. They have determined he did not act alone but could not release any other information except to say more arrests are expected.
Police say the people who filed reports will be contacted so that the can get identification made and the property returned to the rightful owners. The APD is also working with other jurisdictions in an attempt to identify owners of other property that it believes could be stolen.
INFORMATION SOURCE: Andalusia Police Dept.
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