Money stolen from courthouse

Published 9:04 am Friday, May 4, 2012

BPS Capt. Frank Green, far left, talks with Sheriff Wiley Griffin and other law enforcement officials as they investigate an apparent break-in and theft at the Decatur County Courthouse on Friday morning.|Justin Schuver

Someone broke into the Decatur County Courthouse Thursday night and took an unknown amount of money from the Tax Commissioner’s Office, Sheriff Wiley Griffin said Friday.

Sheriff’s deputies responded to the courthouse at approximately 7:42 a.m., when the first employee to arrive for work unlocked a door and the building’s security alarm went off. The employee also called 911 because they suspected a break-in.

“There is an alarm at the Courthouse and it did sound an alert this morning,” Sheriff Griffin said. “The burglary happened sometime overnight; we’re not sure why the alarm was delayed in going off. We canvassed the inside of the courthouse to make sure the suspect was not still inside.”

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The thief apparently broke a window on the side of the courthouse that faces Crawford Street and entered the office where license plates are purchased and vehicle tags are renewed.

The thief then took six bank bags containing petty cash; the bank bags were found discarded outside the courthouse.

“We have a security video showing the suspect,” Griffin said. “We’re going to get it enhanced and put it out there.”

The Sheriff said the thief apparently also tried to enter the Clerk Of Court’s Office through an external door—the thief was unsuccessful but the door was damaged.

Griffin said the courthouse was quickly secured with crime tape and no additional employees were allowed to enter the building until 8:40 a.m. At that time, the Tax Commissioner’s Office and Clerk Of Courts Office remained secured. The Clerk of Courts office re-opened but the Tax Commissioner’s Office remained closed Friday.

Griffin explained that the Sheriff’s Office was assisting Bainbridge Public Safety with Friday’s early-morning calls, because BPS was involved in a departmental meeting. BPS Director Eric Miller said  a number of his officers were attending an important, pre-scheduled meeting to brief them on an upcoming organizational change. Miller added that he appreciated the deputies’ assistance.

BPS Chief Investigator Capt. Frank Green and BPS Inv. Mark Esquivel are leading the investigation for Public Safety, while DCSO Chief Investigator Capt. Chip Nix and DCSO Inv. Terry Phillips are leading the investigation for the DCSO. Crime Scene Investigator Gale Bowyer processed the courthouse for any potential forensic evidence, Sheriff Griffin said.

In additon, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation has multiple agents working on the case, Griffin said.