‘Band of Thieves’ indicted on 74 charges, linked to Clark, 10 other counties


UPDATE @6:06 p.m.:

A crime ring dubbed a “band of thieves” with links to 11 Ohio counties has been accused of breaking into businesses and stealing items that could be valued at up to millions of dollars.

A Clark County grand jury issued a 74-count indictments this week against seven men after a year-long investigation that involved more than 20 law enforcement agencies.

Billy Barrett, Markus Barrett, Jerry Bush, Jesse Rieder, Ricky Large, Ricky Terry and Kenneth Melton are all in jail on charges that include engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, burglary, breaking and entering, safe cracking, vandalism, theft and receiving stolen property.

The “band of thieves” aren’t the typical suspects looking for something to steal and sell for drug money, Preble County Sheriff Mike Simpson said.

“These are career criminals and that’s all they do,” he said. “And it’s their goal to go steal your stuff.”

Six of the suspects are related to one another. U.S. Marshals rounded up five of them Thursday morning. The other two are already in prison.

They’re accused of taking tools, ATMs, cars and more. They reportedly hit barns, garages, small businesses and even county buildings. Many of the crimes were committed between midnight and 6 a.m., Clark County Prosecutor Andy Wilson said.

“There was not much that was going to stop them,” Darke County Sheriff Toby Spencer II said. “Anything that wasn’t fastened down or whatever. They had a targeted item and they were going after it.”

No value has been set on the stolen items but it’s estimated to range between “multi-thousands of dollars to millions,” Spencer said.

The case will be tried in Clark County because of its central location, Wilson said, and many of the crimes were committed in Clark County. It’s also close to Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, he said, which assisted in the case.

The indictment covers eight counties — Clark, Montgomery, Darke, Delaware, Preble, Miami, Pickaway and Shelby counties. Law enforcement from three other counties — Madison, Clinton and Franklin counties — participated and additional crimes are suspected to have occurred there, Wilson said.

The thefts in Clark County began in January at the Super Swamper on Quick Road, Clark County Sheriff Gene Kelly said.

In February, the group allegedly stole a 1995 Dodge Ram Truck along Ohio 235 and smashed through a carryout to get an ATM in Miami County.

Dave Closey owns that truck and the Sunoco in Park Layne where it was stolen. He was glad to hear arrests had been made.

“It’s going to be a relief to a lot of small businessmen … We’re not multi-millionaires and it really hurts,” Closey said.

The group also is accused of striking in Clark County on March 19 at two locations along West National Road and on March 20 a location on South Medway-Carlisle Road, and then on May 18 hit a location on West Carpenter and then stole an ATM at Pat and Martha’s Bar.

That May incident also involved a chase with deputies and Large and Terry driving the wrong-way on Interstate 75.

The investigation was teamwork at its best, Kelly said.

“A lot of technology was used in this case and a whole lot of good old-fashioned police work,” he said.

More charges could be filed, Spencer said, and investigators hope to recover more property.

If convicted on all the charges, the suspects face maximum sentences that range from 12.5 years for Melton to 46 years for Large.

The jurisdictions worked for a long time to build the case against the group, Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer said.

The suspects have been busted numerous times for these types of crimes, he said, and it’s a way of life for them.

“These are names that we all know … Hopefully these guys will get a long sentence, because it’s never-ending with this group,” he said. “I’m sure they’ve driven up people’s insurance premiums.”

UPDATE @ 1:58 p.m.:

A year-long investigation involving multiple agencies culminated in the arrest of seven people for various theft and burglary related charges involving area businesses.

Billy Barrett, Markus Barrett, Jerry Bush, Jesse Rieder, Ricky Large, Ricky Terry and Kenneth Melton are all in jail on charges related to a theft-ring where they allegedly broke into and stole items from various businesses across 11 counties.

The counties where the suspects allegedly committed crimes include Darke, Preble, Miami, Montgomery, Shelby, Clark, Clinton, Madison, Delaware, Pickaway and Franklin counties.

Charges in the case were approved Dec. 8 through a 74 count indictment issued by a Clark County grand jury that included charges of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, burglary, breaking and entering, safe cracking, vandalism, theft and receiving stolen property.

Officials from various jurisdictions served arrest warrants for all seven suspects yesterday morning at 5 a.m. and all suspects were in custody within three minutes, officials said.

Six of the seven suspects are related to one another.

INITIAL REPORT:

Seven people have been arrested suspected of breaking into and stealing items from Clark County businesses, according to the Clark County Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff Gene Kelly said the seven people are also suspected of similar crimes from the Indiana state line to Franklin County in central Ohio.

Kelly said a 74 count indictment was handed down in the case.

We’re expecting to learn more on this case during a press conference at 1 p.m. today in Darke County.


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