NEWBERRY COUNTY — The arrests of four people linked to a series of burglaries in Whitmire and Union County should serve as notice to anyone wanting to commit a crime that “if you mess with one, you mess with all.”
Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster made that statement at a joint press conference held Thursday with Union County Sheriff David Taylor and Whitmire Police Chief Jeremiah Sinclair to announce the arrests of three people from Whitmire and one person from Waterloo in connection with burglaries that occurred between July 26 and Aug. 1.
Those arrested were Kenneth L. Braswell, 40, of 74 Sinclair Ave. in Whitmire; Sierra D. Braswell, 29, of 1260 Church St. in Whitmire; Chrystal R. Hughes, 43, of 7471 River Folk Road in Waterloo; and Donald A. Price II, 26, of 191 Sinclair Ave. in Whitmire.
All were being held at the Newberry County Detention Center on Thursday with the exception of Braswell who was released on bond.
Of the roughly $10,000 in antiques and collectibles that were stolen, more than $3,000 has been recovered. Some of the items stolen included baseball cards and antique glass bottles.
Foster said the burglaries were committed to supply a drug habit.
“The relationship (between the subjects) is methamphetamine,” Foster said. “People that are hooked on it, people that use — they find themselves out because those are the people that know how to cook meth, know how to manufacture meth and know how to move meth.
“We are living in a time right now where people tend to minimize the effect of drugs and drug abuse on a community,” he said, adding that “drugs still have a major impact on crime.”
Union County Sheriff David Taylor said the market is saturated with meth in Union County and that in 2015 alone his department seized 17 “shake and bake” meth labs.
“We’ve got to educate our young people … about the dangers of drugs and what it can do to you,” Taylor said. “You can find a meth head — most of them have no more than two teeth and those teeth are probably loose.”
Sinclair, who described the four as “basically career criminals,” said they might have been working together in some of the burglaries while acting alone in others.
The case was initially opened by the Whitmire Police Department before seeking assistance from the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office, which in turn teamed up with the Union County Sheriff’s Office to develop suspects and eventually make arrests.
“Investigators from all three agencies quickly realized that the burglaries in both jurisdictions were related,” Taylor said. “They combined forces and worked these cases together to round up these suspects.”
Taylor said criminals will often commit crimes in multiple jurisdictions thinking it will be harder for law enforcement agencies to build cases against them.
“We’re thankful that we have a working relationship with these agencies that help us to catch these people,” he said. “The investigators from Newberry and the chief of Whitmire are to be commended for the job they do. There’s still a lot of merchandise out of these three burglaries that’s still on the street and we encourage anyone who’s bought anything from these individuals to come forward.”
Authorities are still looking for Ansel Bradley Wallen, 45, who is under suspicion of theft from a motor vehicle.
“Primarily he kind of roams in the Whitmire, Union County area,” Foster said.
In an effort to highlight the teamwork of the three agencies and also discourage future crime, Foster said: “We want to place the bad guys on clear notice that if you mess with one, you mess with all.”
Reach Carson Lambert at 803-276-0625, ext. 1868, or on Twitter @TheNBOnews.