LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. - A Limestone County neighborhood watch group's relationship with deputies helped track down the burglars believed to be responsible for taking items from cars in the community, authorities said Monday.
Sunday, deputies arrested Raymond Keith Holloway, Jr, 20, of Toney and charged him with 12 counts of breaking and entering a vehicle. Holloway is being held in the Limestone County Jail on $30,000 bond.
Deputies say Holloway, Jr. and another person they identified as Rocky Allen Williams, who they are still looking for, are responsible for burglaries in the Bethel community recently.
Dexter Shelton, who lives in the Bethel area, said he and some neighbors got together to form a community watch when the burglaries happened. He didn't like the way the crimes made him feel: "very violated and irritated."
"My son went to school and he noticed his truck door was standing open and his backpack was open. He called me, and I went outside. I had two glove compartments and they were open. Items were strewn everywhere," he explained. Deputies say 12 vehicles were broken into, all of which were left unlocked, but Shelton believes it was dozens more because he doesn't think many neighbors reported what happened.
Shelton said the neighborhood wanted to do something about it to keep it from happening again.
"I wouldn't say I was the founder, but it was three of us that came together to start the neighborhood watch," he explained. "We wanted to take our community back. It's not a good thing for the community to have things like this going on. We started the watch. We had a meeting. 25 or 30 people showed up. We waited another week or two, and 30 or 40 showed up. We think it was 30 or 40 different people," he noted of the group's growth. Shelton said the group's next meeting at the Wooley Springs Baptist Church will be next Thursday at 7 p.m. He expects to have even more people attend.
The neighborhood has been working hard and communicating about suspicious behavior in order to keep crime at bay.
"We have these magnetic signs on four vehicles that watch the neighborhood on different times of the day and night," he said.
Shelton urges people in all areas to get to know their neighbors to stay alert and informed in times of trouble.
Deputies turned to these neighbors not only to report the crimes but help with evidence that led to the arrests. The sheriff's office says witnesses and video footage assisted investigators, along with fingerprints from several of the vehicles. Madison County Sheriff’s investigators had arrested several suspects for vehicle burglaries that were very similar to the Bethel Community burglaries, and Limestone County Sheriff’s investigators say they obtained enough information from Madison County as well as community residents to obtain warrants on Raymond Holloway and Rocky Allen Williams.
"The community watch expands the resources that we have. We have a certain amount of resources here in the department, but that doesn't ever substitute for community activeness and people who see daily goings-on in that area providing information relevant to their cases," said Stephen Young, Public Information Officer for the Limestone County Sheriff's Office. "It's just a really successful outcome when the community and law enforcement can work together."
If you want to organize a community watch in your neighborhood, check out this link and contact your local law enforcement.
"We are glad to work with communities," said Young.
Investigators are still looking for Rocky Allen Williams, 18, in this case. He is around 5 feet, 8 inches tall and weighs 145 pounds. Anyone with information on his whereabouts should call the Limestone County Sheriff’s Office at 256-232-0111.