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Thieves target area businesses

Friday, December 26, 2008

Some are blaming recent local thefts on the economic recession. Fulton, Sharp and Izard counties have all had businesses broken into in the past month.

Horseshoe Lanes in Horseshoe Bend was broken into Oct. 27 and just over a month later the Snappy Mart in Horseshoe Bend was burglarized. "(The economy) probably has something to do with it," Horseshoe Bend Police Chief Fred Mitchell Jr. said.

According to Mitchell, the thieves who broke into the bowling alley in October, managed to break open the safe and take an undisclosed amount of money. Although the police department has some suspects in this case, no arrests have been made at this time.

Sometime in the early morning on Dec. 7, the Snappy Mart was broken into. The suspect, who was later identified as John Trivitt, a former employee, gained access to the store's safe stealing about $5,000 in cash, receipts and checks. According to the affidavit, Trivitt also got away with other items and store merchandise.

According to the report, investigating officers Tamara Roberts and Lt. Carl Boles questioned several people during the investigation, Trivitt being one of them. When Trivitt was questioned, he pointed the officers towards another suspect.

The affidavit said Officer Roberts received a text message after they released Trivitt from questioning that said, "What if whoever had the money anonymously left it off somewhere???" This message led the officers back to Trivitt where they recovered the money and other items.

"Typically, it's usually younger people (who do small time robberies)," Mitchell said. "But as people become more desperate, they (any age) might resort to that sort of thing."

According to Fulton County Sheriff Walter Dillinger, Fulton County has had a couple of thefts as well. Karpet Country on Highway 62/412 was broken into and a theft of a tractor and some guns on Highway 395 was reported.

Dillinger said the tractor was recovered but the guns have yet to be found. "I'll tell you what, we're going to see a lot more of it (robberies)," Dillinger said. Dillinger said the more the surrounding areas are affected by the economy, the more it reflects on Fulton County.

Dillinger said since the price of scrap metal has declined so has the theft of it. "Now that scrap metal is down to nothing, people are going to be doing something else," Dillinger said.

The police later linked the robbery of Karpet Country with two other robberies in Sharp County. Clyde's Chuckwagon and The Copper Kettle, two restaurants in Sharp County were robbed on several different occasions in the past month.

David Hightower was arrested for these thefts and is being held in Sharp County. Hightower was arrested the evening of Dec. 11 after an employee of Clyde's Chuckwagon identified him as the person who had taken money from the restaurant's cash register.

According to the affidavit for arrest, Hightower burglarized these businesses starting on Dec. 4, not stopping until his arrest Dec. 11. On Dec. 4, the Cherokee Village Police Department began an investigation into the burglary and theft that occurred at Clyde's Chuckwagon that day. There was another investigation opened on Clyde's Chuckwagon for a burglary that occurred Dec. 7.

On Dec. 8, a vehicle parked at Clyde's Chuckwagon owned by an employee, was broken into. The affidavit stated that cash, credit cards and personal property were stolen from the car. Following the theft on Dec. 8, an ATM card taken from the car was used at the FNBC ATM machine in Cherokee Village to obtain $400 in cash. Officials say Hightower attempted to use it again later that day but was unsuccessful.

Also on Dec. 8, the Kopper Kettle in Hardy was broken into. Officials say Hightower gained entry through a door and took currency from the business.

Hightower is also accused of stealing $140 in cash from the Kopper Kettle on Dec. 10. Officials say he took the money from the register when the employee on duty left the room.

Officials say Hightower struck again on Dec. 11. According to the report, the business called police after a man entered the restaurant and attempted to steal cash from the register. Employees of the restaurant identified the man as Hightower.

Special Agent Wendall Jines of the Arkansas State Police interviewed Hightower on Dec. 11. According to the affidavit, Hightower told Jines how he gained entry to each place and how he took the money and items that were stolen.

On the morning of Dec. 12, Highland Chief of Police Bea Sharp received a call that Karpet Country in Highland had been broken into, according to a separate affidavit for arrest by Detective Mark Counts.

The affidavit stated that Larry Duncan, the owner of Karpet Country, advised that he found his front door kicked in and his money bag that contained about $70 along with some stamps and "Playboy" magazines were missing.

In the report, Counts said he asked Hightower about the burglary at Karpet Country and Hightower admitted to it. "I asked David what he did with the money that was in the bag," Counts said in the affidavit. The report states that Hightower replied by telling Counts that he used the money to purchase Oxycodone ( a prescription drug) so he could shoot it up.

According to the report, Hightower then told Counts that he wanted to show him where he had hidden the stolen property. Counts and Officer Bobby Woods escorted Hightower to Katta Circle in Cherokee Village where he uncovered stolen items that were placed under leaves and an old door.

Hightower is facing several felony charges. District Judge Mark Johnson set Hightower's bail at $65,000 cash or property during his first appearance.

Cherokee Village Chief of Police Jason French said these cases have been solved due to the outstanding cooperation of all of the area police departments.

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