car thefts

Five B’shear residents charged in PCSO case

Five Blackshear residents have been arrested and more arrests are reportedly pending in connection with a string of car thefts over the past week.

Martica Cruz, 39, Thomas Eugene Mott II, 20, Cameron Lovell, 22, Jordan Kristopher Sweat, 24, and David Joel Thigpen Jr. 24, all of Blackshear addresses, were arrested and charged in connection with the thefts.

Thigpen Jr. was charged with two counts of theft by receiving stolen property, burglary and possession of methamphetamine. Mott II is charged with theft by receiving stolen property, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and possession of methamphetamine. Lovell has been charged with two counts of theft by taking. Sweat is charged with theft by receiving stolen property and Cruz is charged with criminal trespass.

Sheriff Ramsey Bennett said his office began receiving reports of stolen vehicles January 16.

“Over the past week, we began tracing out leads and the investigation led to these individuals,” the sheriff said. “We are also looking for a couple more suspects and we think that will round up all of them and put an end to this series of thefts.”

Bennett said the thieves would locate a car with the keys in it, steal it and also take things from inside the vehicles.

“They would drive the vehicle around for a day or two, then they would ditch it and look for another one,” the sheriff said.

The six vehicle thefts were spread throughout the county, from the Farr’s settlement off U.S. Highway 84 in the southwestern section of the county to Georgia Highway 121 north of Blackshear.

Investigation into the car theft ring reportedly began in connection with the theft of Scotty and Jadison Hayes’ van shortly before they left late last year to become missionaries in South America. Sheriff Bennett indicated those arrested were involved in the theft of the van, but did not give additional details citing the ongoing investigation.

Thigpen, Mott and Cruz were arrested last Tuesday and Sweat was arrested last Wednesday. Lovell is currently in custody in Ware County on charges there.

Mott II and Sweat are currently being held in the Pierce County Jail. Cruz and Thigpen Jr. have been released on bond.