Items from Monticello Burglary Recovered In Madison
Special from ECB Publishing, Inc.
A suspect in the May 11 burglary at the NAPA Auto Parts store, located at the corner of Railroad and Dogwood streets, was arrested earlier this week and a second suspect is being actively sought.
The Monticello Police Department reported that on the morning of May 11, officers were summoned to investigate the burglary of the NAPA store. Investigators discovered that a shed, located adjacent to the store and a bike trail, had been broken into and an air tank had been stolen.
A chain link fence surrounding the back of the business had also been cut open. In an open bay area at the rear of the store, approximately 35 used automotive batteries were stolen.
In addition, two delivery trucks had been entered and ransacked. Captain Roger Murphy and Officer Josh Bullock investigated and documented the crime scene.
On Friday, May 13, a witness in the case came forward and asked to speak to Murphy and Lt. Mack Norton, after reading an article in the Monticello News the previous evening. The witness said he read in the newspaper about the burglary, which listed the theft of the batteries. The witness said on May 11 he was contacted by a man named Brandon Freeman, 25, of Monticello, who asked him to haul some car batteries to the recycle center for him. (The witness is known to often gather and transport recyclable items to the recycle center.) The witness agreed to haul the batteries because he also had some items to sell. The witness met with Freeman and a second suspect at Freeman’s apartment. Freeman’s girlfriend was present. The batteries were stored in Freeman’s living room. The men loaded the batteries, approximately 30, on the truck and drove them to the recycle center in Madison,
At the center, Freeman sold the batteries. During the trip, the second suspect asked the witness if he wanted to buy an air tank and the witness declined the purchase.
The following evening, the witness was reading the Monticello News article and discovered that the batteries and the air tank were stolen. The witness told a friend, who called Freeman’s girlfriend to inquire if she knew the items were stolen. Shortly afterward, Freeman contacted the witness, inquiring who he told about the batteries. Freeman implied someone saw “them” during the burglary and he named the man who saw them.
After receiving this tip from the first witness, Monticello Police Chief Fred Mosley located the second witness, who agreed to provide a statement. The second witness stated that around 5:30 Wednesday morning, May 11, he was walking to work utilizing the bike trail. He walked past the NAPA store and about one block later, he noticed two men standing in the shadows near the shed by the NAPA store. The witness said he believed the two men must have been hiding when he initially passed the store, just seconds before he had not seen them standing there.
On May 16, Murphy interviewed Freeman’s girlfriend, who was rather evasive when he inquired about the batteries and she attempted to create an alibi for Freeman, however, she could not explain how the batteries appeared in her apartment overnight. She did state that the second suspect was at their residence the next day and assisted in loading the batteries.
Later the same day, Murphy and Norton interviewed Freeman. He initially denied any involvement in the crime and could not explain how the batteries arrived in his apartment. During the interview, Freemen eventually admitted driving the second suspect to the scene, watching him enter the fenced area and returning a short time later, where the second suspect had stacked the batteries.
The two loaded the batteries in Freeman’s girlfriend’s car and drove them back to his apartment, where they placed them. Freeman claimed not to know what happened to the air tank. Freeman claimed the second suspect was alone, however, the second witness originally identified by Freeman to the first witness, reported seeing two men by the shed. On Friday morning,
May 13, Monticello received assistance from the Madison County Sheriff’s Office. MCSO Investigator Tina Demotsis went to the recycle center, located the batteries, photographed them and obtained a copy of the receipt bearing Freeman’s signature accepting payment for the batteries.
The batteries were returned to the NAPA store.
Freeman was arrested May 16 and charged with burglary of a structure, bond set at $10,000; burglary of a conveyance, bond set at $10,000; grand theft, bond set at $5,000 and violation of probation on the charge of grand theft. Freeman remained at the County Jail May 19, held without bond.