Arrests made in 3-month string of Beaufort County car robberies

achristnovich@islandpacket.comMarch 16, 2012 

  • To claim items stolen as a result of these vehicle break-ins, call the Bluffton Police Department at 843-706-4550.

Two teens have been charged in connection with a string of break-ins of dozens of unlocked vehicles in Bluffton neighborhoods.

Al Jordan Mitchell, 19, was charged with 11 counts of breaking and entering into a vehicle, and Alfonza Powell, 18, was charged with 25 counts of the same crime.

Both suspects live in Bluffton, according to Bluffton police Lt. Joe Babkiewicz.

Babkiewicz said the vehicles weren't damaged during the break-ins that began in mid-January, but entering them without permission is still considered breaking and entering.

In all, Bluffton police and the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office are investigating more than 100 cases of theft from unlocked vehicles this year in southern Beaufort County. Fifty-seven of them occurred in Bluffton, Babkiewicz said.

Three people were charged last month in other car break-ins in southern Beaufort County.

The recent arrests followed the discovery of security-camera footage from a local electronics store that showed the men using a gift card that was reported stolen from one of the vehicles, according to the Bluffton Police Department.

The men roamed area neighborhoods late at night stealing items from the vehicles, a news release said. Neighborhoods struck included Pinecrest, Pineridge, Bluffton Park, The Farm, Hampton Hall and Wellstone.

A search warrant was issued for the men's home on Simmonsville Road, where police said they found GPS systems, iPods, cellphones, a handgun and a set of car keys. The keys belonged to a car stolen from the Beaufort area that was recovered by Bluffton police about a week before the arrests, Babkiewicz said.

Both men are being held at the Beaufort County Detention Center. Powell's bond has been set at $125,000, and Mitchell's is $55,000.

Babkiewicz said the investigation continues, and other suspects might be involved.

Police reminded residents to lock their cars.

Related content

  1. Rash of car break-ins spreads to more Bluffton-area neighborhoods, Feb. 15, 2012
  2. Rare coins stolen amid car break-ins, Feb. 16, 2012
  3. Bluffton car break-ins subside over weekend; suspects in custody, Feb. 13, 2012
  4. Two arrested in car break-ins in Beaufort, Jan. 30, 2012

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