200 break-ins: Teens arrested in larcenies from cars
For weeks, people around the county have awakened to find their cars have been broken into. But on January 23, a complaint that people were going through cars in the Old Trail neighborhood led to the arrest of three teens who police say have broken into more than 200 vehicles.
Christopher Ballard, 18, is charged with five counts of grand larceny; Kristie Ryder, 19, is charged with two counts of grand larceny, and an unidentified 17-year-old faces eight counts of grand larceny, which is a felony that carries up to 20 years in prison.
The rash of car break-in reports has been coming in since November, says Albemarle police Sergeant Darrell Byers. Most recently, seven vehicles in Mill Creek were reported hit January 16, over 20 off East Rio on January 17, and more than 20 reported on January 20 in the Georgetown Green and Pantops areas. Most of the vehicles were unlocked, says an investigator.
Police were already looking for the alleged perps January 23 when the call came in from Old Trail in Crozet. The suspects "attempted to leave the area at a high rate of speed," says Byers.
The alleged getaway vehicle, a Honda Pilot, was stopped on Interstate 64. The first clue that the occupants may have been involved in the thefts was the number of GPS devices spotted inside the car. Police found thousands of dollars worth of purloined property, including golf clubs, a handgun, and small electronics, says Byers.
From the suspects' homes, investigators have recovered antique guns and samurai swords that were reported missing from a burglary. On a table at Albemarle police headquarters, more around 99 items were laid out, including cameras, sunglasses, flashlights, laptops, cellphones, and a wallet full of $20s. Police estimate the value of the recovered merch at roughly $18,000.
Last May, Ballard was arrested for breaking and entering, a felony, and convicted of a misdemeanor charge of entering property with intent to damage. According to court records, he was sentenced in June to 12 months in jail, with 10 suspended.
Ballard and Ryder are scheduled to appear in court March 3. Police say the investigation continues, and more charges are possible. Anyone with information about these incidents or who is a victim of a car break-in should contact Detective Belew at 434-296-5807.
Updated 5:15pm with the revised police number of more than 200 car break-ins.
Updated 9:45am January 25 with police contact info.