UPDATED: Four arrested in string of Helena car burglariesPublished 1:41pm Wednesday, July 24, 2013
By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor
Charges are pending against four suspects arrested on July 24 in connection with a string of car break-ins in Helena, according to the Helena Police Department.
Charges of unauthorized breaking and entering a motor vehicle, receiving stolen property and attempting to elude police are pending against a 22-year-old male and three juvenile suspects. Police said the four suspects are “responsible for at least 34 vehicle break-ins.”
The 22-year-old was identified as Kortdero Keytonta Sillence. Because of their juvenile status, police did not release the other three suspects’ names.
On the early morning hours of July 24, Helena police officers responded to a suspicious activity report in the Old Cahaba neighborhood. When the officer arrived, two adult males fled the scene on foot into the woods and dumped stolen property as they ran, according to Helena police.
After working with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office to set up a perimeter around the area, officers discovered two more suspects in a stolen vehicle near the scene.
Officers spotted the two original suspects at about 8 a.m. in the Helena Middle School parking lot and, after a foot chase, brought the suspects into custody.
Helena schools were placed under lockdown while the search for the suspects was under way “in the event they had students or personnel present during the summer holiday.”
“At no time were any students at risk during the manhunt,” read a Helena police press release.
Helena officers are investigating the vehicle break-ins, and said they believe the suspects began breaking into vehicles in Tuscaloosa before working their way to Helena.
Since the arrests, police have recovered two stolen vehicles and “a large amount of property” believed to be stolen by the suspects, according to Helena police.
Among the property stolen and recovered was a Bronze Star awarded to U.S. Army Sgt. Michael Cooner for actions he took to protect his fellow soldiers during a 2006 ambush in Iraq. Anyone with contact information for Cooner is encouraged to contact Helena Police Lt. Brad Flynn.
The investigation has “turned into a huge case with several agencies throughout Jefferson County,” Helena Police Sgt. Chris Rollan wrote in an email.
“In the upcoming days, detectives will be actively working to reunite victims with their recovered property,” read the press release. “If you believe you might have been a victim of these individuals, please notify the Helena Police Department at 663-6499 and file a report.”
Officers are encouraging local residents to always lock their vehicle doors when they are parked.
“Also, do not leave your keys or any valuables in your vehicles overnight,” read the press release. “Not one vehicle entered last night was locked.”