Columbia police arrested a man they say is responsible for eight robberies and thefts in recent weeks.
Tuesday night, officers arrested 29-year-old Jermell Lamar Burnett for numerous robberies and thefts that happened in central part of the city from July through September.
Police say he is responsible for the following crimes (in chronological order):
- On July 27, police say Burnett stole approximately 10 car batteries from Battery Outfitters and sold them back to the store for scrap.
- On Aug. 6, officers say he stole approximately five car batteries from Battery Outfitters and tried to sell them back to the business.
- On Aug. 15, Burnett allegedly stole ten car batteries from several cars at 63 Auto Sales.
- On Aug. 21, he allegedly stole a cash drawer from the fruit stand at Range Line Street and Lakeview.
- On Aug. 26, Burnett stole several tools from a business on Range Line street, according to police.
- On Sept. 16, police say he stole a cash drawer from a fruit stand in the parking lot of 915 Business Loop 70 East.
On Sept. 12, police say Burnett robbed Earthgrains on Vandiver Drive. During the robbery, Burnett had a sock over his hand and demanded the employee open the cash register.
When the employee did not respond, he stole a can of soda and fled from the scene on a bicycle.
Columbia police say on Sept. 17, Burnett stole the cash register from the Passions adult store on the Business Loop. Officers say he had a sock over his hand during the robbery.
Victims that Burnett stole from said he didn't try covering up at all, he was just crafty in getting the money. Because of him, some business owner changed some security measures.
“We kind of fixed things up to where it would be a lot harder for him to get, my brother came over and put the fence up and he did some other things, he fixed the tables a little bit different to where it would be a little harder to get to,” Hallie Dean Jenkins said.
Officers said there was plenty of evidence and witnesses to point him out.
“Mr. Burnett was a frequent customer of some of the places, so he was known to them and the problem that existed was that he was homeless so we had a hard time locating him,” Columbia police officer Latisha Stroer said.
But for victims like Jenkins, he said having his money stolen by Burnett twice has changed him. He now keeps mental notes of everyone that walks by his fruit stand. He doesn't want to see Burnett for quite a few years.
“I'm hoping nothing like this happens again and I'm glad he got caught,” Jenkins said. “He's going to spend a little time (in prison).”
Burnett has been charged with two counts of first-degree robbery. There were no other charges filed Wednesday for him stealing items at other businesses.