JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - The city of Jonesboro was plagued with more than 115 car break-ins over the spring and summer months. Unlocked cars turned into stolen items. Everything from cash to firearms was stolen in that time frame.
Thanks to investigative work, DNA and social media, JPD says thousands of dollars worth of property has been recovered and six men have been arrested and charged with the crimes.
"We've really had a really hard time with vehicle break-ins," Lt. Steve McDaniel with the Jonesboro Police Department told Region 8 News.
For months, JPD received report after report of vehicle break-ins on the north end of town. McDaniel said mostly, cash and cell phones were reported stolen.
"We put a lot of extra patrols up in that area, we had a lot of other investigative tools that we used up in that area," McDaniel explained.
Residents even formed neighborhood watch groups.
"The person had just kind of eluded them and eluded us," he said.
During the time of the break-ins, a struggle between a victim and a potential suspect gave police the clue they'd been needing.
"The suspect lost a toboggan hat. That toboggan was collected and DNA evidence was able to be collected from that toboggan. It was examined by the Arkansas State Crime Lab and we actually got a hit on the suspect from the DNA that was matched off of that toboggan."
That DNA linked police to Ricky Walker.
"He's been positively linked to about 19 of the crimes. We believe he may be related to upwards of 80 of those types of crimes."
However, before Walker's arrest, police were dealing with a new string of break-ins. This time, on the south end of town.
"Fishing equipment, things like expensive Yeti coolers, expensive sunglasses, cash and firearms were taken."
McDaniel told Region 8 News that at least 30 cars were broken into over the course of a few weeks. They didn't have any DNA to go off of this time but
caught the crooks on camera. McDaniel explained that video was then uploaded to social media.
"Asking if anyone recognizes these people and in this case, they did."
So far, five men ranging in age from 18 to 20 have been identified, arrested and charged with those B&Es.
18-year-old Lane Fears, 20-year-old John Faughn, 20-year-old Andrew Shipman, 20-year-old Ben Blackshare and 20-year-old Dustin Stout, all of Jonesboro, are charged in connection with those break-ins on the south end of town.
Though the police department is now able to clear more than 115 car break-ins with those six arrests, they want to keep it from happening again and say people's actions are key.
"Lock their car doors, number one. Park in lighted areas. If you have something of value, take it inside your house, especially a firearm."
Anyone with information concerning vehicle break-ins in the city is encouraged to contact JPD or call CrimeStoppers anonymously at 935-STOP.