Deputies arrest would-be burglar in Chelsea

Published 5:08 pm Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Investigation of a bizarre crime scene led to a burglary arrest for one off-duty Shelby County Sheriff’s Office detective Sept. 27 at Snider’s Discount Pharmacy off U.S. 280.

Sgt. Jamie Moore discovered Reginald Harris “hanging from the rafters” in the attic above the pharmacy at about 10 a.m. Sept. 27 after owners of an adjoining business noticed a “chunk of their wall” missing, said Melyssa Boggan, the pharmacy’s office manager.

After discovering Harris, deputies arrested the man, who had stolen “quite a bit” of drugs from the pharmacy, and charged him with one count of burglary. However, as of Sept. 30, several other burglary charges were pending.

The arrest came about eight hours after ADT alarm company employees detected motion-sensor alarms going off in the Hayes Eye Center, which is in the same strip mall as the pharmacy.

“Robby Hayes, who owns the eye center next door, got a call from ADT at about 2 a.m. Sunday morning,” said Boggan. “But he had been having problems before with a faulty motion sensor.

“When ADT told him they couldn’t detect a broken window or open door, he told them to cancel the alarm because it was just the sensor acting up again. Anyone would have done the same thing,” Boggan added.

About five hours after the alarm was canceled, the owners of Walton Mortgage, which also is in the strip mall, arrived at their business and noticed holes cut in their walls.

“The Waltons had come in to do some stuff at about 7 a.m., and they saw this hole cut in their wall,” Boggan said. “They called the sheriff’s department, and several deputies showed up.”

When they arrived, deputies discovered someone had entered the side of the strip mall opposite the pharmacy and cut through four businesses before breaking into the pharmacy.

Because the suspect had broken into five businesses, deputies were forced to treat each business as a separate crime scene.

“They went through each business one-by-one until one of the investigators got to the pharmacy and heard something drop above him,” Boggan said. “He shined his flashlight up into the attic, and saw someone hanging up there in the rafters.”

After apprehending the man, deputies found he had stolen many boxes of drugs from the pharmacy.

“I can’t even begin to describe how much money he would have taken if he would have gotten away with those drugs,” Boggan said. “The deputies pulled out quite a bit of loot when they found him.”

Although most of the businesses in the strip mall had security cameras, the suspect tunneled through the building without being filmed, Boggan said.

“He had all the signs of a professional. He knew exactly where he was going, and he knew where not to step,” Boggan said. “It was a scary feeling when they pulled him out of that wall. We had no idea someone was still in there.

“I am so thankful to the sheriff’s department. They really went above and beyond the call of duty to help us,” Boggan added. “Investigator Moore wasn’t even supposed to be working that morning.”

As of Sept. 30, Harris remained in the Shelby County Jail in lieu of a $15,000 bond.