• 50°

Deputies uncover local theft, drug ring

South Point – Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department officials will begin the long process of matching serial numbers from theft reports to more than $300,000 in stolen items recovered this week.

Tuesday, October 12, 1999

South Point – Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department officials will begin the long process of matching serial numbers from theft reports to more than $300,000 in stolen items recovered this week.

Meanwhile, two brothers face charges of trafficking in drugs, receiving stolen property, trafficking in food stamps and possession of drugs in connection with the items police recovered, Chief Deputy Jim Cochran said.

Henry Taylor, 1021 Franklin Ave., South Point, and his brother, John Edward Taylor, of Madison Street, South Point, were arrested Saturday after an anonymous tip on the sheriff’s hotline led officials to the source of hundreds of local thefts, Sheriff Roy Smith said.

"Friday evening, we managed to get a couple of (drug) buys off Henry Taylor, and we went back later in the evening and purchased more from Johnny Taylor," Smith said. "We had secured information that the two brothers would trade drugs for stolen property, so the prosecutors’ office provided us with a search warrant which was signed by a judge at approximately 3 a.m. Saturday morning."

Just two hours later, deputies and members of the Lawrence County Drug Taskforce returned to the residence with a warrant, intent on making an arrest.

"At about 5 a.m. we went to Taylor’s residence and just knocked on the door," Smith said. "Inside the house, we discovered a few thousand dollars in cash and quite a bit of drugs."

Deputies found cocaine as well as about 600 oxycodon pills, extra-strength analgesics that are sold on the streets at about $60 per pill, in addition to other similar prescription drugs in amounts that are about 20 times bulk, Cochran said.

Also, deputies recovered an estimated 2,500 items believed to have been stolen from local department stores, homes and vehicles, Cochran said.

"We have trouble with shoplifters all the time, and we call the sheriff’s department frequently for it," said Sarah Eldridge, assistant manager at the Dollar Tree Store in Tri-State Crossing Plaza near Lowe’s. Ms. Eldridge was one of about 25 store representatives at the scene Monday afternoon. "The sheriff’s department called us and told us about this, so I’m here to look and see if they have any of our merchandise and hopefully get it back."

It took deputies more than 24 hours to relocate the stolen items to a storage facility in South Point, Smith said.

Items included, but were not limited to, guns, jewelry, DVD players, CDs, CD players, pressure washers, lawn mowers, weed eaters, rotary tillers, bicycles, industrial-size battery chargers, VHS movies, golf clubs, portable air tanks, exercise equipment, heaters, tents, power tools, flood lights, lanterns and Craftsman tools by the tubfull.

Deputies contacted local department and specialty store managers and loss prevention officers Monday afternoon, allowing them to come to the South Point storage facility and begin looking for items that might belong to their stores, Smith said.

"Many of the items have never been out of the box and can be identified by their bar codes or store tags, and those items will be returned to the stores from which they were stolen," Smith said. "For the other items, we will begin the process of matching serial numbers to the serial numbers given in theft reports in the last two years and try to return those items to their rightful owners."

For any items that are untraceable, Smith said an auction is a possibility.

"If we cannot find the owners or the stores the merchandise belongs to, then we might have an auction," he said. "The proceeds would then go right back into funding the fight against drugs and theft."

The sheriff’s department hotline can be reached by calling any of the regular phone numbers and asking for extension 300, Cochran said. All calls are completely confidential and can be anonymous, he said.