4 nabbed in downtown jewelry theft

Published 5:00 am Thursday, September 17, 2009

Brookhaven Police Chief Pap Henderson said it was the heads-upwork of his department and the willing assistance of surroundingagencies that made the Wednesday arrests of four alleged jewelrythieves possible.

Henderson said Rhynie L. Smith, 55; Michael L. Finley, 55; andLynda M. Collins, 51, all of Baton Rouge; and Lawrence Sterling,55, of Dallas, were booked into Lincoln County Jail on charges ofgrand larceny and conspiracy to commit grand larceny after anincident at Smith Jewelers on West Cherokee Street.

“We had three black males and a black female that went intoSmith Jewelers, and one of them reached behind the counter to acase that was unlocked and got a tray of rings,” Hendersonsaid.

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The four were apprehended on Interstate 55 mile marker 47 asthey attempted to leave the county, Henderson said. He said theLincoln County Sheriff’s Department offered assistance in the hunt,and officers were stationed at each of the exits heading out of thecounty on Interstate 55 because there were no Mississippi HighwayPatrol units available.

BPD narcotics agent and Southwest Mississippi NarcoticsEnforcement Unit Deputy Commander John Douglas and Alcohol andBeverage Commission Enforcement officer John Goza stopped thevehicle in which the four were riding. The four were booked intojail around 3 p.m. Wednesday.

“We had good information telling us what kind of vehicle it was,and that it had an out-of-state tag,” Henderson said. “All thatinformation helped us and paid off, and we made the arrests.”

The vehicle had a Minnesota tag, though none of the suspects arelisted as being from Minnesota. How they knew about Smith Jewelersis not clear at this time, Henderson said.

“We have no idea how they knew how to get downtown or how theyknew about Smith Jewelers,” he said.

He said another great help to the investigation was that thestore has video surveillance equipment.

Henderson said especially when information comes together asquickly as it did Wednesday, crimes like the Smith Jewelers theftwill not be tolerated in his city

“This is proof that we will not put up with anything like this.When we get this much information, we’re going to do our job and beforceful doing it,” he said.