2017-09-15 / Front Page

Alleged burglar caught with help of social media

By Cathy Cobbs

William Curtis Young being arrested for allegedly breaking into homes. William Curtis Young being arrested for allegedly breaking into homes. Chalk up another victory for the good guys to Facebook!

After a series of daytime break-ins in the Lake Katherine neighborhood wherein jewelry and family heirlooms were stolen, often from people who had already fought to come back from the devastating flood of 2015, members of the area’s Facebook page started commiserating about their losses, and urging people to become more vigilant about unfamiliar cars and people in the neighborhood.

The result?

The alleged burglar, William Curtis Young, 40, (DOB 07-24-1977) who is suspected of breaking into homes on Kathwood Drive, Woodlake Drive, Quail Lane, and Chimney Hill Road, was arrested Friday, September 8, and charged with seven counts of burglary, five counts of receiving stolen goods, and grand larceny. According to Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center website, Young is currently in custody, and no bond has been established as of Tuesday, September 12.

Mug shot of William Curtis Young Mug shot of William Curtis Young At a neighborhood meeting held September 6 at the Quail neighborhood pool, called specifically to address the rash of burglaries, Capt. D.A. Thornton told attendees a person of interest in the burglaries was being sought for questioning.

According to Thornton, the suspect, who turned out to be Young, had been spotted selling some of the stolen goods at Gibson’s, a jewelry store in the Rosewood area. Thorton said Young had been in the store more than a dozen times in the past few months, which caused consternation among the attendees at the meeting, who wondered why a jeweler would not be suspicious of that kind of activity. A car that was allegedly used in the heists was also identified tentatively as a burgundy Camry.

That’s when things got good. An alert neighbor spotted the car driving slowly through the Lake Katherine neighborhood Friday morning, September 8, took a picture of it, and posted the photo on the private Facebook page. Only minutes later, another neighbor, who was also a member of the closed group, saw a car matching that description in the Target parking lot on Garner’s Ferry Road.

“When I realized it was the same car, my hands were shaking,” the resident, who asked for anonymity, said. “I called the non-emergency number, and, as I saw the car pull out of the lot, I decided to follow it, while still on the phone with the dispatcher.”

The resident stayed several cars behind the suspect’s vehicle, reporting on its movements as it turned down Old Woodlands, then Christie Road, heading towards Hammond School.

“All of the sudden, the SUV that was in front of me, which must have been an unmarked police vehicle, swung out, turned on its lights, and blew towards the car,” the resident reported.

“And then it seemed like dozens of other police cars converged on the scene and blocked the car. The next thing I saw were the officers, guns drawn, yelling at the guy to get out of the car and get on the ground.”

The resident didn’t see the end of the drama, but the result was the arrest of Young, who was apparently captured on foot minutes later. Neither the Columbia police spokesperson nor Richland County Sheriff ’s Department representative returned calls from this reporter to give the fate of the driver of the vehicle.

According to a press release issued by the Columbia Police Department Sunday night, Young is also “wanted in connection with similar crimes in the RCSD jurisdiction. CPD and RCSD are collaborating on the investigation.”

The release said Young is suspected of stealing nearly $50,000 in merchandise over the past few months. Most of the victims have recovered their items.

This investigation is ongoing and additional arrests are forthcoming.

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