One time a guitar. Another, personalized plates. Sometimes, nothing.
During the monthslong spree that hit parts of Jackson and Cape Girardeau from November until July, they outsmarted security systems, crept in windows and, when stealth failed them, they smashed a sliding-glass door to get what they wanted.
On one occasion, they had an eye toward the dangerous, pilfering a 9 mm handgun.
Now, the three Jackson men who have been charged with the crimes, none older than 21, find themselves facing a daunting number of felonies that, when combined, total three first-degree and 33 second-degree burglaries, four counts of theft and two stealing charges. The first-degree burglary charges are for when residents were inside at the time of the break-in.
Aaron M. Denson, 21, was the most recent defendant to make his trip to the Cape Girardeau County Courthouse on Wednesday, where he is looking at 17 burglary charges, two that are theft related and one for allegedly stealing a firearm. Denson was the first to be taken into custody July 31, regarding the burglary investigation and the theft of a firearm, according to court documents. After he was booked, Denson, the documents say, agreed to speak with police. While interviewed, police said, Denson admitted to various burglaries and thefts from motor vehicles that had taken place in Cape Girardeau County -- mostly Jackson.
Due to the sheer numbers, Denson had trouble recalling exactly all he'd done, the records say. He did tell police though, that two others were involved and that Jacob Colyott and William Artadi, both 19, participated during some of the crimes.
After being brought in, police say, Artadi also agreed to talk to officers. During questioning, Artadi admitted to being involved in burglaries that occurred in the Pioneer Orchard subdivision and neighborhoods around Jackson Middle School while with Denson. Artadi now faces 15 burglary charges, two theft charges and one theft of a firearm.
Colyott is charged with two first-degree burglaries and has been the only one of the three to have his bond reduced. Denson and Artadi have been incarcerated since their arrests, each on $35,000 cash or surety bond. All have upcoming court dates. After Wednesday, Denson's next is uncertain. Because his charges were staggered as new information came to light, his court docket Wednesday called for a trial setting, a preliminary hearing and an initial arraignment.
His lawyer, Malcolm Montgomery, said he put off all of the events Wednesday in hopes of "resolving the matter with the prosecutor's" office, he said, adding that "we're really just starting on this."
The prosecutor in Denson's case, Angel Woodruff, was not available for comment Wednesday.
The probable-cause statement on file for Denson's charges are page after page of detail about the burglaries and thefts that police say probably top more than the charge totals suggest.
The culprits hit Eli Drive and North High Street, West Point Place and Arbor Circle. They stole cash and goods. Some of it they discarded, once leaving a cellphone on the hood of a victim's truck. One gave a laptop and a cellphone to his girlfriend. A purse, after robbed of its cash, was flung into a field.
The Rev. Grant Gillard returned home from a vacation cruise with his family to learn that the burglars either didn't know or care that he was a pastor. Regardless, they had taken an Xbox 360, a DVD player, a projector, an LCD television and a coin collection that his father-in-law had meant for Gillard's son.
They also found their home ransacked.
"I was surprised it was kids," Gillard said. "They knew where people store things -- top shelves behind sweaters. We kept finding stuff that was missing for weeks after. But I think they were stealing just for the sake of stealing."
Cape Girardeau, Mo.