By Linda Looney-Bond
Two men are in jail charged with burglary after police say they busted a theft ring suspected of stealing hundreds of TVs across metro Atlanta over the past year, mainly from sports bars.
In a press conference Wednesday, Clayton County Police Chief Jeff Turner said the arrests are the result of combined efforts by a task force that includes police from 16 metro Atlanta departments.
"Today I think that the law enforcement community has shown the citizens of our city, county, and state that we can and will work together to protect and serve our communities," said Turner, who was flanked by representatives from the multi-jurisdictional task force.
Devon Sherman Anderson, Jr., 22, of Riverdale is in the Clayton County jail charged with four counts of felony commercial burglary.
Clayton County Police Detective Mitch Kincaid said a Doritos bag left behind after a Smyrna restaurant was burglarized led police to Anderson.
"We never had a good solid lead up until a fingerprint was discovered on a Doritos bag of all things, in one of the other jurisdictions. That was our first big lead," Kincaid said.
"We saw on the [surveillance] video when the car pulled up, [that] something fell out of the back-passenger car door," said Kincaid. "When the vehicle left after the burglary, we were able to obtain that item that fell out of the car, which was a Doritos bag. On it was Devon Anderson's print.
"We were able to link the owner of the fingerprint to the owner of the vehicle, which was Devon Anderson," he said.
Clayton County police arrested Anderson last month following a home invasion at 5751 Riverdale Road in College Park, according to Turner.
A lookout was given on a gold Mercedes Benz which officers stopped approximately two blocks from the location of the home invasion, Turner said. He said the driver was identified as Anderson, and arrested and charged with armed robbery and driving with a suspended license.
"Devon Anderson had made several admissions to us. He did admit that he was involved in the commercial burglary at J.R. Crickets, located on Campbellton Road," on Dec. 2, 2008, Fulton County Police Detective Melissa Parker said during the press conference Wednesday.
"He is currently under investigation for several commercial burglaries," she said.
Following Anderson's arrest, Clayton County Police and the SWAT team searched a residence at 950 Lake Ridge Parkway in Riverdale, Turner said. "Officers recovered five flat-screen TVs, an AK-47 weapon, and $825 in U.S. currency, which had die pack stains on the bills," he said.
Also charged with burglary is Bershan Lewis, 23, of College Park, who is being held in the Douglas County jail.
Police have also named Malique David, 22, of College Park, and Anthony Antoine Jackson, 22, of Forest Park, as persons of interest in the theft ring, according to Turner.
The task force says as many as seven persons may be involved in the theft ring, which was referred to as the "Hit Squad."
Police believe the theft ring has stolen approximately 200 plasma and flat-screen televisions with most having a retail value of $2,000 to $4,000 each.
"To those citizens who are out there who may be in parking lots and somebody approaches them to sell those TVs, that's a $2,000 TV," Turner said.
"If you're buying it for $200 dollars you should know that something's not right... and if you are caught in possession of a TV that you bought for $200 that retails for $2,000, you will go to jail," he said.
Turner also advised, "Any homeowner or retailer...it is imperative that you write down serial numbers. That is a very easy way to get your property back, because when we recover those flat-screen TVs, we'll research the serial number."
Other police departments that make up the task force are the Atlanta, Clarkston, Cobb County, College Park, Conyers, DeKalb County, Douglasville, Flowery Branch, Forest Park, Henry County, Kennesaw, Roswell, Sandy Springs, and Smyrna, as well as the Hall County Sheriff's Department.
Anyone with information in the burglary cases was urged to call the Crime Stoppers hotline at (404) 577-8477.