Convictions in break-in cases leads to decreased crime rate

By Wendy Byerly Wood - [email protected]

Break-in cases decreased by 9 percent in 2016 after the arrest and incarceration of four people involved in a string of breaking and enterings and larcenies in the Elkin area early in the year.

Lt. Mendy Peles and Chief Monroe Wagoner said the case which led to the conviction of Letonya Ann Sidden, Ashley Nichole Speer, Christopher Blaine Settle and Guillermo Rodriguez was a strong contributor to the decreased number of break-ins during the rest of 2016.

“We would like to accredit [the decrease] to the arrest and incarceration of [the four criminals],” Peles said Wednesday as the two law enforcement leaders reflected on activity during 2016.

“We solved that case and that has made a difference now in the number of cases,” Wagoner agreed.

Peles said the four suspects were caught in March, were bonded out and the returned to jail in the spring. Sentencing occurred this fall.

The solving of the break-in cases was credited to good witness statements and forensics.

“We had several reports where Tonya had been seen near the houses, but no one had actually seen her enter or exit the homes,” Peles said. “Then on Feb. 29, a witness saw Tonya’s daughter’s car and got the tag and saw them go in the house and carry stuff out. An officer on patrol saw Ashley’s car out that night and was able to conduct a traffic stop. She consented to a search and we recovered items in the truck form two break-ins, one that hadn’t even been reported yet.”

The victim of the second home break-in returned home and came to the police station to report the incident while the suspects were in custody being questioned at the police department. Wagoner said it was good to be able to tell them they already had someone detained.

In addition to the witness aid on Feb. 29, a victim of a vehicle break-in earlier in the year had had hear car washed and detailed just a couple of days before the break-in, and Peles said the woman noticed fingerprints on her car where she hadn’t touched it since it was cleaned. “I was able to lift them, and they came back as Christopher Settle’s,” reported the lieutenant.

From November of 2015 to March of 2016, Peles said there had been a number of break-ins where Sidden had been seen nearby, but officers couldn’t put her in the house. The Feb. 29 events changed that.

Also, because of the time lapse between some of those break-ins and when charges were issued, Peles said the suspects were only able to be charged with possession of stolen goods and not the actual breaking and entering incidents.

She said anything the suspects could sell quickly, they got rid of, but the large items like televisions, game systems and some jewelry were still in their possession.

Looking forward to 2017

For 2017, Wagoner said the only legal change locally will be the implementation of the ban on the use of jake brakes by trucks in the town limits.

After receiving complaints about the noise caused at various hours of the day and night by residents, the town commissioners passed the ordinance to limit the use of the engine brakes, known as jake brakes, in the fall.

Wagoner reported Wednesday that the state Department of Transportation officials have approved the signs and marked the places where they can be erected, and the signs have arrived.

He said as soon as the posts come, the signs will be erected and the ordinance enforced.

Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.

By Wendy Byerly Wood

[email protected]

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