Toccoa Police Chief Tim Jarrell said it started with an investigation into some shoplifting cases from the Toccoa Wal-Mart.
“Detectives with the Police Department had some shoplifting cases and we had video of people walking out of our Wal-Mart here in Toccoa with various items, computers, televisions, things of that nature,” said Jarrell. “We actually contacted our N.C.I.S team and asked them if they could help to identify these people and they actually helped us to identify one of the individuals that was on tape.”
That led authorities to Habersham County last Tuesday, April 9, where Toccoa Police, along with the Mountain Judicial Circuit N.C.I.S. Drug Team, Habersham County Sheriff’s Office, and Cornelia Police Department, served a search warrant looking for the stolen property.
Jarrell said authorities found that, along with a significant amount of drugs.
“In addition to finding many items that were stolen from our Wal-Mart here in Toccoa, we were able to find items that were stolen from the Cornelia Wal-Mart,” said Jarrell. “We were able to recover 44 grams of methamphetamine, a small amount of marijuana, and $1,800 in currency.”
Jarrell went on to say that the methamphetamine has an estimated street value of $10,500.
At that time, authorities arrested 42-year-old Benjamin Joel Heard of Baldwin, 43-year-old Ricky Land of Baldwin, and 36-year-old Heather Christine Bain of Cleveland.
Heard is charged with one count of Possession of Schedule Two Drug with Intent to Distribute and one count of Theft by Receiving. Land is charged with one count of Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon, one count of Theft by Receiving, and one count of Possession of a Schedule Two Drug. Bain is charged with one count of Trafficking Methamphetamine and one count of Possession of Marijuana Less than one ounce.
According to Jarrell, that operation last Tuesday then led authorities to a location in Cornelia, where authorities arrested 26-year-old Matthew Robert Gibson of Cornelia for Felony Theft by Shoplifting.
“He faces in Toccoa and he also faces charges in Cleveland, Georgia for a theft of flat screen televisions from that Wal-Mart store,” said Jarrell.
Jarrell said Gibson’s arrest then led police into Hall County, where they served a search warrant at a Clermont residence and found another TV stolen from the Cleveland Wal-Mart.
In Clermont, Jarrell said authorities arrested 27-year-old Jeffrey Thomas Fink of Clermont on a charge of Felony Theft by Receiving.
Jarrell said authorities believe Fink was accepting stolen items from numerous individuals.
“It is our belief, during the course of our investigation, that Mr. Fink was taking in items that were stolen from various Wal-Marts such as televisions, computers, electronic equipment, and he was accepting stolen items in exchange for money and/or drugs,” said Jarrell.
Authorities also arrested 23-year-old Patricia Ann Mead of Clermont while serving the search warrant in Hall County. Jarrell says Mead was wanted on outstanding warrants from Banks and Habersham counties.
Jarrell said he is extremely pleased with the work done on the case by his department’s detective division.
Jarrell also said he appreciates all of the cooperation between the agencies and points to the work police did with the N.C.I.S. team in moving this case forward.
The investigation is ongoing and Jarrell said authorities believe stolen items from other counties may be connected to this case.