By Adam Armour/The Itawamba County Times
Itawamba County law enforcement agents have had their hands full with a rash of burglaries during the last few months.
“We have been extremely busy,” Itawamba County Sheriff Chris Dickinson said. “The county has been very active over the last month. Some of it probably has to do with the Christmas holidays — crime tends to pick up during this time of year — and the economy has a lot to do with it.”
Deputies arrested and charged at least six individuals with various theft-related crimes during the months of December and January, with more arrests anticipated in the near future.
On Dec. 5, deputies arrested Betty Faye Fowler, 44, of Mantachie and James Ivy, 46, of Houston. Both were charged with grand larceny.
Fowler received an initial court appearance before Justice Court Judge Lance Bean and was issued a $3,000 bond. She is currently out of jail.
Ivy is currently being held in the Lee County Jail by the Mississippi Department of Corrections on prior charges.
Deputies have arrested a juvenile suspected of burglarizing a home on Murphy Road in the Fawn Grove area.
According to Mike Newlin, a criminal investigator with the Itawamba County Sheriff’s Department, the suspect was arrested on Dec. 29 for the burglary, which occurred on the previous day. The suspect allegedly stole a variety of electronic equipment — including a television, DVD player and Playstation 3 game console — and two guns.
The case is still under investigation. Newlin said more arrests are anticipated.
On Jan. 1, deputies arrested Kirsten Haley Morgan, 22, and Timothy Eric Riddle, both of 300 Mantachie Creek Road, and charged them with burglary and grand larceny. Morgan was also charged with credit card fraud.
Each suspect received an initial court appearance before Justice Court Judge Harold Holcomb and was issued a bond in the amount of $10,000. Both have been released from jail on said bond.
The couple is accused of burglarizing a home on Franks Road in the Fawn Grove area. Allegedly, the suspects stole various electronic equipment and a gun. All of the property was recovered.
Finally, Brandon Ray Rivers, 22, of Hamilton, Ala. was arrested on Jan. 6 and charged with grand larceny. He is accused of stealing an ATV from a home on Highway 23 North.
Rivers received an initial appearance before Justice Court Judge Barry Davis and was given a bond of $10,000. He is still being held in the Itawamba County Jail.
According to investigators with the Itawamba County Sheriff’s Department, the allegedly stolen ATV was recovered. The case is still under investigation, however, and more arrests are anticipated.
According to Dickinson, theft seems to be the most popular crime right now. With many people struggling with their finances, some have chosen to supplement their incomes illegally.
He called it an unfortunate sign of the times.
“It never ends,” he said. “It’s just an ongoing battle that we’re going to have to deal with.”
The sheriff said if there’s a bit of brightness in all that gloom, it’s that most of these crimes are being solved quickly and the stolen goods are being recovered.
“We’ve been very fortunate that we have been able to solve these crimes,” he said. “Our batting average on recovering the property has also been way above normal. We feel good about that.”
Dickinson credited the community for the success:
“The community has helped us a lot,” Dickinson said, adding that many residents have been quick to call when spotting suspicious vehicles and persons in their areas. “We appreciate the feedback that they give us. We always check out calls of suspicious vehicles and people. Sometimes it helps us out on cases — developing suspects and solving crimes.
“I’ve seen law enforcement and citizens working together the last couple of months, which is why we’ve been as successful as we’ve been,” the sheriff added. “That’s what it takes.”
It wasn’t all alleged thievery during the last few months; deputies recently arrested a Fulton man for attacking another person.
Jamie Michael Collier, 28, of 452 Barnes Road, Fulton, was arrested on Jan. 4 and charged with aggravated assault.
During his initial court appearance, Collier’s bond was set at $5,000 by Justice Court Judge Barry Davis. He is currently out of jail and awaiting his appearance before the Itawamba County Grand Jury.