NEWBERRY — A Columbia man jailed in Newberry County on 14 charges related to an equipment theft ring is considered the ring leader of the group for his role in scouting the target locations as well choosing the items to be stolen.
Santerrio Montinez Smith, 25, of 201 Dubard Boyle Road, turned himself in June 24 to authorities at the Newberry County Detention Center and was served 14 warrants: one count each of petit larceny, conspiracy to commit petit larceny and possession of tools used in the commission of a crime; two counts each of conspiracy to commit grand larceny and conspiracy to commit burglary (third degree); three counts of third-degree burglary; and four counts of grand larceny.
Bond was set at $126,000 surety. Smith was released June 24 after posting bond.
“This is a wide-ranging process and we are still investigating,” Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster said. “We are still making efforts to return stolen property if it can be found. The problem is so much was stolen, at night, over so wide an area. (Even with cooperation from some suspects), they have a difficult time saying where the (specific suspect) has been and what was stolen.”
Foster said the NCSO worked with a variety of agencies, including the S.C. Law Enforcement Division. Kershaw, Richland, and Fairfield counties experienced similar crimes.
From March 24 through June 10, Newberry County deputies and investigators proactively patrolled Newberry County and investigated a series of lawnmower/lawn maintenance equipment thefts in the county.
Around 3 a.m. June 10, Newberry County deputies observed a lawnmower theft in progress. After a short chase and search for a final suspect, four suspects were arrested and taken into custody. A vehicle was also seized.
Those arrested were Albert Ray Boyd Sr., 51, of 308 Penbrose Drive in Columbia; Quentin Eugene Pendleton, 37, of 8401 Bluff Road in Columbia; Brion Trivell Thomas, 24, of 5718 ½ Colonial Drive in Columbia; and Nicholas Theodore Whitener, 29, of 9004 Wilson Boulevard in Columbia.
Information gathered at that time confirmed Smith was a key figure in the theft ring.