Robbery ring targeting vacation homes busted
Ten suspects have been charged in connection with a rash of property crimes in the Cashiers and Glenville area.
Several have been arrested but a few were still at large as of early this week, according to the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office. The charges ranged from felony breaking and entering to possession of stolen goods. The crimes targeted homes and vehicles in the area.
The Cashiers and Glenville area have a high percentage of second-homes and vacation homes. Given the seasonal nature of residents, theft can go unreported for long lengths of time.
The sheriff’s office recovered various items during the investigation, but not all of the items have been claimed by the property owners. And as summer residents filter back to the mountains, many still might not even be aware their possessions have been taken, the sheriff’s office stated in a press release.
The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office would not comment or respond to additional questions beyond what was in the press release nor provide further information about the nature of the crimes or stolen items.
Although overall crime rates are quite low in the Cashiers and Glenville area, crimes targeting seasonal residents are some of the most common, according to David Finn, chief of Blue Ridge Public Safety, a private security company in the area. He estimated that between 65 and 70 percent of the homes belong to seasonal residents.
“The primary issue is that a lot of these are vacation homes,” Finn said. “So November through this part of the year, those homes are vacant and as a consequence can be targeted for break-ins.”
Finn said none of the incidents investigated by the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office occurred in developments that his private security firm is contracted to patrol. Since 1972, the private security force has been watching homes in the area. Currently it monitors about 3,500 residences in 40 or so communities in the Sapphire Valley and provide of the round-the-clock response and assistance.
Because Cashiers and Glenville communities are not towns with their own police force, the sheriff’s office is their public law enforcement arm. Whether the sheriff’s office dedicates enough resources and deputies to the Cashiers area was an issue in the last election, in which Finn actually ran against Sheriff Jimmy Ashe.
Finn said the presence of a company police force fills the void and works to deter most property crime.
“Statistically, in the county and in the state, this is one of the lowest crime areas because we deter a lot of criminal activity, and we follow up on what does occur,” Finn said.
The agency recently completed a six-month investigation into a spat of stolen flat screen televisions in the area. About 20 break-ins had occurred, and Finn said his agency worked with the Asheville Police Department and other local law enforcement agencies to recover some of the televisions. The perpetrators were identified as well, and several warrants remain outstanding.
The following suspects have been charged in relation to property crimes in the Cashiers and Glenville areas: Christian Sammons of Cullowhee; Andrew McKinney of Franklin; David Johnson of Sapphire; Carl Ferrin of Cashiers; Jack Kern of Glenville; Leeann Kern of Glenville; Holly Moore of Franklin; Eddie Potts of Cullowhee; Charles Blackwell of Lake Toxaway; and Samuel Walk of Sapphire.
Any information regarding the break-ins or missing items should be reported to Detective John Buchanan at 828.631.1131 or Detective Charles Crisp at 828.586.1382.