Three people have been arrested in connection with at least 17 vehicle thefts over the past two weeks in Sumter County.
Thomas Guy Franklin, 17, of Summerton, will be charged with multiple counts of breaking and entering an automobile, according to department spokesman Braden Bunch. Two other Sumter residents, one 15 and the other 16, were also taken into custody and will be charged with multiple counts of breaking and entering an automobile.
The 15-year-old was taken into custody by deputies responding to reports of a burglary in progress, Bunch said, while Franklin and the other juvenile were arrested later in the day.
At least 17 automobile burglaries are being attributed to the suspects, including several occurring outside homes in the Meadowcroft community Wednesday morning, Bunch said. Items reported stolen from the vehicles include wallets, electronic equipment, hunting equipment and at least one handgun.
Investigators believe the suspects could also be responsible for a series of incidents in Clarendon County, Bunch said. Sumter authorities are working with Clarendon County deputies to determine if there is any connection to the suspects.
In almost all of the Sumter County incidents, victims reported that their vehicle were unlocked at the times of the alleged burglaries, Bunch said.
Franklin is being held at the Sumter-Lee Regional Detention Center, and the two juveniles will be taken to a Department of Juvenile Justice facility in Columbia, according to Bunch.
Authorities continue to investigate, and more charges and arrests are possible, Bunch said.