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Winthrop Police Nab Auto Theft Suspects

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 Winthrop Police arrested two juveniles and a teen-ager believed to be involved in an interstate car theft ring.

ROCK HILL, S.C. - Winthrop University Police arrested two juveniles and a teen-ager this week in connection with an interstate car theft ring suspected of stealing vehicles from two area college campuses, as well as other locations.

Police have recovered nine vehicles, including four Hondas taken from the Winthrop campus, one from Pfeiffer University in Charlotte, N.C., two from a Rock Hill apartment complex and two from Pineville, N.C. Police said the cars apparently had been stashed in parking lots of apartment complexes in Rock Hill and Pineville until the teens could return and claim them.

Winthrop Police Chief Frank Zebedis praised the cooperation of other area law enforcement agencies and his officers’ work in quickly apprehending the alleged thieves. The four vehicles from Winthrop were taken between Jan. 26 and 29, so solving the case in less than a week involved persistence and good police work, he said.

The first break in the case came earlier this week when three of the nine vehicles were recovered at or near Yorkshire Apartment Complex on Lucas Street in Rock Hill.

Winthrop Police set up a stakeout of campus parking lots and on Jan. 31 apprehended a 13-year-old youth who was driving a stolen Honda from Pineville. The juvenile’s arrest led to additional arrests later that night of a 14-year-old from Rock Hill and Christopher Lee Thornton, 19, from Mount Gilead, N.C.

Police have charged the 13-year-old juvenile from Mount Gilead, N.C., and other two suspects with grand theft auto, criminal conspiracy and possession of burglary tools, among other charges. More charges are expected from other agencies.

For more information, contact Zebedis at 803/323-3333.

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