Crime & Courts

DNA leads to arrest of serial burglar in dozens of car, home break-ins

Brooks Easterling
Brooks Easterling

DNA analysis landed a Columbia man in jail after forensics determined he committed dozens of thefts from cars and homes, according to officials.

Deputies arrested Brooks Easterling, 35, at his residence on Joe Louis Drive July 26, according to a news release from the Richland County Sheriff’s Department.

A subsequent search of his home allowed deputies to recover about 200 stolen items from at least 16 burglaries in Richland County, Forest Acres and the City of Columbia jurisdictions, the release stated.

The recovered items include electronics, such as iPads and laptops.

The Richland County Sheriff’s Department Crime Lab analyzed evidence from an Aug. 16, 2015 burglary on Overcreek Drive in the Rockbridge area, which identified Easterling as the person responsible, the release stated.

Investigators believe Easterling also committed burglaries in the Lake Katherine, Trenholm Road corridor, Rockbridge, Wildewood and Woodcreek Farms areas because they were similar to the Overcreek Drive case.

Sheriff Leon Lott said the similarities between the burglaries included the victims were typically out of town on the weekends and had expensive jewelry, small electronics and handguns stolen. The suspect would then break into the homes using a rear entrance, oftentimes a master bedroom window.

Sheriff Leon Lott stated Easterling also committed 30 automobile break-ins, including in Rock Hill, Sumter, Florence, Garden City, Forest Acres, Columbia and Richland County. Richland County investigators recovered at least 20 SC drivers licenses, IDs and credit cards from the thefts.

Lott said his department’s lab is recognized as “one of the best in the country” and was essential in pinning down Easterling.

Investigators continue to investigate Easterling’s activities and acquaintances, and additional charges for others involved may be forthcoming.

Brooks is charged with 17 counts of burglary and 17 counts of larceny.

He was booked into the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center and was denied bond.