OREGON COUNTY -- A twomonth string of burglaries and thefts across southern Missouri has been solved and officers with the Oregon County Sheriff's Department were instrumental in solving the crimes.
Oregon County Sheriff Tim Ward said beginning April 24, safes and ATM machines from six counties in the area were stolen, including a safe from a convenience store at Alton. He said the majority of the merchandise was stolen from convenience stores and Dollar General Stores.
"Our incident was the last theft and it happened June 13," the sheriff said. On June 13 the Alton One Stop, located at the junction of P Highway and 160, was burglarized and a safe containing an undisclosed amount of cash and a number of tobacco products were stolen. That same night, the Alton Quick Connection, located on Highway 160 West, was burglarized. A trash can, roll of smokeless tobacco and a box of cigars were stolen. Ward said both burglaries occurred around 2 a.m.
"On June 22 our office received information from officers in Dent County that the stolen safe from Alton might be in Dent County," Ward said. The sheriff said he and Chief Deputy Eric King traveled to Dent County where they were joined in the investigation by Dent County Sheriff Bob Wofford and Dent County officers. "
He took us to rural Dent County and at a residence on Big Rock Candy Mountain Road we recovered six safes, including the one from Alton and two ATM machines," the sheriff said. Ward said officers also recovered $8,000 in checks. He said the safes were stolen from Alton, Vienna, Winona, Edgar Springs, Carter County and Shannon County. The two ATM machines were stolen from the 63 Fuel Stop in Phelps County and from a convenience store in Iron County. Ward said all the safes still had checks and bank bags in them.
"At the request of Sheriff Wofford, our department seized the stolen merchandise and returned it to Oregon County. We returned to Dent County with a search warrant for a residence in Salem," Ward said. He said two of the suspects in the case lived there, and several items, including a large amount of tobacco, were found.
Arrested were Lorretta Lyn Meyette, 29, and Chad Wade Lovett, 41, both of Salem, Mo. Meyette is in the Oregon County Jail. Lovett and Randy S. Compney, 19, are jailed in New Hampshire and are waiting extradition back to Missouri. All three have been charged with two counts of burglary and two counts of stealing.
Ward said assisting in the investigation and arrests were officers with the Alton Police Department and officers in New Hampshire as well as officers in all the Missouri counties involved. He said in all 13 burglaries were solved.