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franklin county times

Burglaries show holiday spike

By Staff
BUSINESS DAMAGE The Meridian Police Department is investigating 19 burglaries that occurred over the last two days. Documents and papers lay scattered on the floor at Smith's Carpet Cleaning on Fifth Street after someone knocked out the glass door. Photo by William F. West/The Meridian Star
By William F. West / community editor
Dec. 12, 2002
A chunk of asphalt lay on the floor of Smith's Carpeting Cleaning, evidence of what somebody used to demolish a glass front door and ransack the downtown business.
Owner Bobby Smith, a Meridian city councilman, discovered the crime on Wednesday at 8 a.m. when he arrived at his business at 1101 Fifth St.
Smith's was one of at least three businesses on the same street that were hit by vandals in the same way.
The Meridian Police Department today was investigating 19 burglaries reported in the city over the last 48 hours including two at Carver Middle School and Harris Elementary School.
Police Lt. Lee Curry and Detective Deano Harper said the an increase in burglaries is not unusual during the Christmas season but such a large number over such a short period of time is.
Meanwhile, 63-year-old Smith, a former Lauderdale County reserve deputy sheriff, was left wondering why someone would heave such a heavy object into the front door of his business.
As big as my head'
Two desks and the area behind the counter were damaged, with papers and other records scattered all over the floor.
Smith said someone even stole Christmas gifts from what had been a locked-up side room. The gifts, which he valued at about $500, were for his family members.
Smith said an undetermined amount of merchandise and money are missing from the business. That's because he had to wait a long time for police investigators and insurance representatives to complete their inspections of the crime scene.
He was also miffed about why someone would go into his carpet cleaning truck which was parked in the shop area of his business. Carpet cleaning equipment was found scattered about.
Businesses hit
At nearby 1200 Fifth St., similar damage could be found at All Around Pool &Spa.
The damaged glass door could still be found on the floor, while the contents of nearby desks and file cabinets were also scattered about. The lone attendant, a young woman, sat quietly and politely despite the chilly air flowing in.
John Bohl, owner of the business and also general manager of The Meridian Star, said he received word of the damage in a phone call from Smith.
Bohl said he believes the vandals entered his business looking for money.
But he said they couldn't have gotten away with much money because not much is ever left in the cash register.
At 1301 Fifth St., business appeared to be as usual at Hughes Supply Co., with a front glass door replacing one broken a chunk of cement.
However, salesman Barney Eldridge said tighter security measures were taken after he received word about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, when the damage activated the burglar alarm.
Harper said the crimes were committed in the same pattern. He said the extent of the property damage is not known; he said the extent of the money taken is known, but he said the Police Department is not releasing that information.
Anyone with any information about the burglaries is urged to telephone Crime Stoppers at 485-1860.