Jackson teens arrested for county-wide crime spree
Detectives have arrested two out of four Jackson County teens who are suspected of breaking into at least 25 vehicles in less than 24 hours.
So far, 19-year-olds Jessica McCoy and Brady Fortner have been arrested in connection with the crimes. Detectives are still searching for two other suspects, Cody Green, 18, and Quinton Barker Jr., 19.
Authorities believe the foursome is responsible for the rash of break-ins that began the night of Aug. 27.
"They started in Maggie and worked their way across the county, ending at Smoky Meadows Apartments in Canton around 2 a.m.," said Sgt. Tony Cope with the Haywood County Sheriff's Office.
In each break-in, the teens targeted unlocked vehicles in public parking lots, beginning at several Maggie Valley motels. They moved on to cars at Lake Junaluska and MedWest-Haywood before making their way to the Canton apartments.
Calls began flooding into the sheriff's office that evening, said Cope. Then, Det. Shawn Gaddis received calls the next morning. Among the many reported stolen items included GPS units, tools, electronics, wallets and purses, Gaddis said.
Detectives from the sheriff's office and Canton Police Department compared video surveillance from break-ins at the hospital and at the apartments and realized they were searching for the same suspect who drove a 2008 Chevy Cruze.
Authorities learned that detectives at the Bryson City Police Department were investigating a similar case involving a firearm larceny from a vehicle. Their suspect drove the same vehicle as the suspects in the Haywood County case.
Through the collaborative investigation, detectives arrested McCoy, who was the owner and driver of the vehicle, and Fortner. Green and Barker, who have not yet been arrested, were identified as the two others who were aiding in the larcenies.
The teens each face several charges of felony breaking and entering, misdemeanor larceny and misdemeanor possession of stolen goods.
The suspects sold many of the stolen items before their arrest, some of which have already been returned to the property owners.
Cope said this case should be a reminder to residents across the county to keep their vehicle doors locked, especially in public areas which are often targeted by thieves.
Even with locked car doors, people should keep valuables out of sight, Cope added.
"Statistically, we've seen a rise in car break-ins because of the current economic situation. They are also usually linked to drug abuse," Gaddis said.
The two urged anyone who has any information about Cody Green and/or Quinton Barker Jr. to call the Crimestoppers hotline at 1-877-922-7463.