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WATER VALLEY – What does a liquor heist, a vehicle burglary and a store burglary in the city all have in common? Video evidence from security cameras in all three incidents helped authorities quickly identify suspects.
Water Valley Police Chief Jason Mangrum reported arrest warrants have been issued for suspects in all three investigations. The first case dates back to Sept. 1 when three individuals purchased top shelf Tequila valued at $2,000 from Main Street Liquor using a stolen or fraudulent credit card. The chief reported the cardholder notified the credit card company when the fraudulent charge appeared on the statement. The credit card company contacted the store owner, who then contacted the Water Valley Police Department last week.
Mangrum said the investigation indicates similar incidents involving some of the same suspects have been reported in Batesville, Panola County and Grenada.
“Those are the ones we know about, I am sure there will be others,” Mangrum added.
The police department posted photos of three suspects involved in the liquor heist from surveillance cameras inside the store. Other law enforcement agencies contacted his department to share details about similar incidents after seeing that Facebook post. An arrest warrant has been issued in the Water Valley case for one of the suspects believed to be from the Jackson area.
The chief also said that the other cases that occurred in Batesville and Grenada also involved thousands of dollars of fraudulently purchased liquor.
“We believe several other agencies have or will have warrants on at least one and possibly other suspects in our case,” Mangrum added.
Mangrum said the purchase was made with an ID that matched the name on the stolen credit card.
“Social media and the electronic age has helped a lot. Cameras are a huge help for investigations and social media helped us immediately connect with other departments experiencing the same problem,” the chief added.
In an unrelated incident, Justin Hadorn of Abbeville was arrested for two counts of auto burglary and one count of grand larceny. Mangrum reported footage from a homeowner’s camera was posted on the department’s Facebook page after items were stolen from a parked vehicle on October 1.
“The suspect was easily identified by multiple people. The Lafayette County Sheriff’s Department provided assistance by arresting him for us. We are very appreciative for Lafayette County deputies and the help from the public.”
In a third incident reported on Sept. 29, video surveillance from Tobacco World on Main Street help authorities identify a Water Valley man who broke into a storage area connected to the store.
Mangrum reported an arrest warrant for commercial burglary has been issued for Larry Simmons.
Officers were dispatched to an alarm call at the store and noticed wood panels on the side of the building had been tampered with.
“The cameras showed an individual entering through the back wall of the store. Officers immediately recognized the suspect,’ Mangrum added.
The chief said that availability of high-speed internet in many areas of the city and county make security cameras an affordable option for individuals.
“Internet access makes cloud-based cameras such as Blink or Ring an affordable options. The cameras are easy to install and do a good job,” he explained.
Mangrum explained that most cloud-based cameras utilize the Wi-Fi signal from the homeowner’s internet, and the recording is activated by sensors that detect movement. The footage is stored online, allowing the resident to see what is happening if they are at work or on vacation. The footage can also be easily sent to authorities.
“The number of cameras in the city is constantly growing and that is a huge help, we can’t be everywhere at once,” Mangrum explained about policing in the city.
He also noted that cameras can be a deterrent, citing a case where a homeowner had footage of a prowler who noticed the camera and left the area.
The chief also said footage helps in a trial.
“It goes a long way if we can show a jury the actual crime on camera,” he said.