Ralph B. DavisManaging Editor
July 12, 2012
WILLIAMSON — For one homeowner and one business owner, having surveillance cameras guarding their property helped to identify perpetrators in 2 unrelated crimes that occurred recently.
Williamson Police (WPD) Chief C.D. Rockel released information about the arrests of Jerry Joe Hackney, 30, and Roger Thacker, 31, both of Williamson, who were taken into custody on Thursday by WPD Sgt. J. Spence and Lt. G.P. Dotson, after warrants were obtained for their arrest.
Hackney was arrested after he was identified on a video surveillance tape as the defendant who stole several items from the porch of a home located in the Sunset community of Williamson, belonging to John Burchett. Chief Rockel said that a patio heater, a television, a pair of Nike running shoes and a leaf blower were taken during the burglary. The incident occurred in the early morning hours of Wednesday.
Due to the facts that a security surveillance camera was in place that clearly showed the defendant’s face and that he was a Williamson resident who law enforcement was familiar with, there was no issues with solving the crime. Neighbors and friends of Burchett also helped share the information about the stolen items by putting the video on their facebook accounts, asking that anyone who knew where Hackney was residing, to please notify the police.
In the second arrest on Thursday, Thacker was charged with destruction of property after he allegedly took a knife, key or other sharp object to the side of a travel recreational vehicle owned by Williamson Attorney Mark Mitchell, while it was parked on Court Street next to the Mountaineer Hotel, which is owned by the attorney.
“This defendant was also captured on video surveillance outside the hotel,” said the chief. “You can see him taking whatever he was holding in his hand, raking it all along the side of the vehicle.
“According to an estimate provided by Mark, the damage inflicted totals approximately $3,000, which makes this a felony count against Hackney.”
Chief Rockel said that during the investigation and while viewing the video, it appeared that Thacker was intoxicated, saying he was unsteady on his feet. Mitchell stated that he was familiar with the defendant but had experienced no problems with him in the past.
“In cases like this, you may never really get the truth about what was behind the defendant’s motives – sometimes people do things for absolutely no reason at all, and it never makes sense,” said the chief.
Chief Rockel told the Daily News that although it’s very sad to come to the realization that we are now living in a world where even small communities and towns are no longer exempt from burglaries, home invasions and armed robberies, it’s a fact of life that must be dealt with and prepared for.
“Both of these crimes were recorded on surveillance cameras, making them easy to solve,” said Rockel. “We’re seeing more and more homes and businesses installing cameras or other security equipment to hopefully deter criminals from choosing them as a target. The cost of several types of this equipment is very reasonably priced, and is a wise investment.”
Other pointers the chief asked to share with the public were to not only be aware of your surroundings, but to keep a close watch on vehicles and people in your neighborhoods that you don’t belong.
“Most people know their neighbors,” said Rockel. “You know who and what belongs there, and what doesn’t. If you notice unfamiliar vehicles driving by your house on more than one occasion, especially at a slow rate of speed that would make one suspicious that they may be scoping out houses to burglarize or to see if there are items of any value in the yard that could be stolen without much chance of getting caught, you need to call your local police agency, sheriff’s department or State Police and report it.
“Most people will hesitate to call and report suspicious activity, thinking that it’s probably just their imagination that something doesn’t look quite right, or they don’t want to be embarrassed if law enforcement arrives and the person or vehicle they reported is there for legitimate reasons.
“Don’t feel that way, because I can promise you that my officers would much rather show up for a call like that than they would if you didn’t report it and then a crime did take place,” Rockel said.
“Follow your gut instinct, if they don’t belong there, if you’re not familiar with them and your neighbors aren’t either, give us a call and we’ll come and check it out. If their motives and intentions prove to be innocent, then no harm – no foul.
“It’s a lot easier to prevent crime when possible, instead of attempting to solve it later.”
One of the main reasons the chief said that we are seeing a huge jump in the number of reported burglaries and robberies is the drug addiction that has gripped not only our county and our state, but our entire nation.
“They don’t care that you worked for what you own, who it belongs to or that you might not have the finances to replace it,” said the chief. “They couldn’t care less. The only thought on their minds is whether or not they can steal the items and sell or pawn them quickly that will bring them a few dollars to support their drug habit.
“The stolen items didn’t cost them a single penny, so whatever they make is profit.
“We encourage everyone to be more careful not only with their safety and security and home, but also at their places of employment, while they are shopping and in parking lots, just to name a few,” said Rockel.
“It only takes a moment of being distracted or chalking something up to an overactive imagination or a suspicious mind for a crime to happen to you. Help us by helping yourselves. We can’t be everywhere all the time, but you can be our eyes and ears.”