Home burglaries have slowed down dramatically in the past few weeks as area law enforcement officers have been rounding up a number of individuals they believe are the culprits behind a rash of Barry County thefts.
As of Tuesday, six Cassville residents have been charged in connection with a series of burglaries that have occurred over the past three months.
Those recently arrested include: Samuel Floyd Munday, 32, receiving stolen property, burglary in the second degree and felony stealing; Steven Michael Farrell, 19, burglary in the second degree and felony stealing; Shawn Michael Hall, 17, burglary in the second degree and felony stealing; Shawn Edward Burdiss, 25, burglary in the second degree and felony stealing; Nathan Daniel Libertus, 18, burglary in the second degree and felony stealing; and Thomas Wayne Ponder, 35, felony stealing.
These men allegedly orchestrated at least 12 different burglaries that occurred at homes in the Cassville, Exeter, Ridgley and Purdy areas since the first of December 2007.
"This is what these guys did on a daily basis," said Barry County Sheriff Mick Epperly. "A lot of the burglaries were done in exchange for drugs."
The arrests came as a result of cooperation between the Cassville Police Department and the Barry County Sheriff's Department.
"Everyone from the city patrolmen to deputies to detectives worked this case, and everyone worked well together," said Barry County Sheriff Mick Epperly.
Detective Danny Boyd with the Cassville Police Department and Detectives Doug Henry and Rob Evenson with the Barry County Sheriff's Department were credited with spearheading the investigation.
This past week, the Missouri State Highway Patrol joined the investigation in an attempt to locate firearms stolen during the burglaries. Stolen weapons include an Uzi, two AK-47s, a number of shot guns and several pistols as well as two bullet-proof vests.
"We have weapons out there, which is a major danger, and that's why we asked the Highway Patrol to assist with that," said Epperly. "Dopers like guns, and they'll trade them between each other."
Some of the property has been recovered and returned to the owners. A large number of the burglaries were "load and go," according to Detective Henry, where the burglars steal the items and pawn them the same day.
Sheriff Epperly commended those officers who have been working these burglary cases.
"It's really good to get cases solved and put these people behind bars," said Epperly. "My detectives have done every step and beyond. They have done enough to see justice served."
To help reduce the chances of becoming a victim of burglary, area residents are urged to keep doors looked and be alert. People are also advised to change their routines and leave a radio and a few lights on when they leave home. Neighbors can also help each other by keeping an eye out for suspicious vehicles or activity at nearby residences.
On a positive note, the recent arrests have resulted in a drop in county burglary reports.
"Things have already slowed down," said Detective Henry. "The home burglaries pretty much stopped."
The investigation is ongoing and more arrests are possible.