UNION — Three men are in jail after they allegedly stole $700 worth of change from a house, took it to a change machine at a local store, caused the machine to jam and then returned a short time later at the direction of the store’s staff to find law enforcement waiting for them.
Wendell Brannon, 29, 121 Woodlawn Avenue, Union, Latevin Brannon, 21, 439 Eisontown Road, Jonesville, and Markese Gregory, 19, 112 Glenn Lane, Jonesville, are charged by the Union County Sheriff’s Office with burglary first-degree and grand larceny.
Sheriff David Taylor said Wednesday the three are charged in connection with a break-in at a residence at 122 Byrd St., Lot 6, Union. Taylor said deputies were dispatched to the residence Tuesday morning where the victim told them he’d left his residence around 4:30 p.m. Monday and when he returned home around 7:30 a.m. he discovered someone had broken into his house by forcing open the back door. The victim said that once inside the thief or thieves stole the following items:
• A 47-inch flat screen TV ($800)
• A shoebox containing approximately $700 worth of loose change.
• A gold man’s watch ($200)
• A silver man’s watch ($15)
• A silver man’s bracelet ($50)
• Two small boxes of assorted jewelry ($50)
Taylor said that after deputies left the scene, the Union Public Safety Department received a call from Bi-Lo that the store’s change machine had been vandalized. He said deputies and public safety officers both responded to the call and were told by a store employee that three black males had entered the store with a large amount of loose change. There were leaves in the change which caused the machine to jam.
While on the scene, Taylor said deputies reviewed the store’s surveillance video and identified one of the men as Wendell Brannon.
Taylor said that after the machine jammed, store employees told the men the machine would have to be fixed and to return at 11 a.m. to get their money. He said around 10:30 a.m. his office received a call from a store employee who said the men were back. Deputies were dispatched to the scene where they found the Brannons sitting in a car in the store parking lot. Taylor said the deputies received permission to search the vehicle and found a gold watch under a baby seat in the back near where Wendell Brannon was sitting. The victim was then called to the scene and identified the watch as being one of the items stolen from his home.
Latevin Brannon and Wendell Brannon were arrested at Bi-Lo and Taylor said Gregory was arrested later that afternoon. He said the three were denied bond and are still in jail.
Taylor said all the stolen items have been recovered including the watch which was recovered from the Brannons’ car, the change from Bi-Lo and the TV which he said was found in Gregory’s home. He said the arrest of the three men and the recovery of the items they are accused of stealing is what happens when people are alert to an unusual situation and report it to the proper authorities.
“It was people being alert to something that raised a red flag to them,” Taylor said. “Bringing in that kind of money and having dirt and leaves in it, that’s just not the normal kind of happening. We want to thank the folks at Bi-Lo for being alert and contacting law enforcement.”
Taylor said the arrests should send a message to those thinking about committing burglaries or other types of the property crime
“If you carry out these type of activities, you better be looking over your shoulder, because we are going to be coming after you,” Taylor said.” We’re beefing up our patrols and putting special emphasis on burglary and property crime. We’re also getting the public more involved by doing awareness programs with different organizations, churches and civic groups. We sent two of our officers to crime prevention training to educate the public.”
While his office will continue working through civic and other groups and organizations to educate the public about crime and how to help combat it, Taylor said his office will also provide information on an individual basis as well.
“If a person wants us within the sheriff’s office to do a security awareness study of their home they can call us and we’ll come out and we’ll give them advice on what they can do to make their home more secure,” Taylor said. “What we’re offering is a one-on-one opportunity for a deputy to come to your house and tell you how you can make it safer.”
For more information about getting a one-on-one awareness study of your home by the Union County Sheriff’s Office call 429-1612.
Editor Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.