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12-17-02: Two suspected in rash of area business thefts
The Daily Standard

    Pieces of a puzzle shared last week during a meeting with law enforcement officers from four counties have led to the identification of two suspects in a string of breaking and enterings in Mercer and Darke counties.
    Charges are expected to be filed as early as this afternoon against an 18-year-old Greenville man and a 16-year-old Greenville boy in regard to a rash of break-ins at three businesses in rural Mercer County and two beauty shops in Celina. They also have been implicated in break-ins at four Darke County businesses and the unauthorized use of two vehicles there.
    Detectives from the two sheriff's offices and Celina Police Department interviewed the suspects Monday night, and the information obtained led to the solving of recent break-ins at Doc's Inn, Woody's Marina and Rindler Truss Inc. in rural Mercer County as well as at Hair Affair and Angie's Cuttin' Corner in Celina. Money and/or various items were taken at each location with the exception of Rindler Truss, where nothing apparently was removed from the Granville Township business.
    Darke County Detective Mike Burns told The Daily Standard this morning an investigation is continuing, but authorities believe the pair also is involved in break-ins at a bar, auto dealership and hair salon in rural Darke County. The two suspects currently are not in custody.
    The unidentified adult allegedly took keys from the auto dealership and used them to gain access to vehicles on two occasions. One vehicle was driven from the business and later returned while the other was found abandoned near Greenville.
    Mercer County deputies asked for assistance from the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation as well as the office of Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery in collecting evidence from area crime scenes. Part of that evidence included tire track and shoe print impressions.
    Information regarding the investigations was shared during a joint meeting between law enforcement officers held last week in Coldwater. Burns noted there were "interesting similarities" between crimes taking place in both counties. The recovery of the stolen vehicle proved to be the turning point, with detectives from both departments meeting in Greenville to compare impressions. Suspects were developed after matches were noted.
    "Cooperation between area law enforcement agencies is what led to the successful investigation of these crimes," Mercer County Sheriff Jeff Grey said this morning. "At this point we have not made a positive connection between the commercial burglaries and the rash of residential burglaries in recent weeks."
    Authorities have developed information regarding another group of thieves who appear to be operating in Mercer County and mostly targeting homes.
    Grey commended area residents who have contacted his office in recent days to report suspicious vehicles and activity in their neighborhoods and asks that the vigilance continue.


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