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Pawleys Island PD: Cameras are helpful, but money still talks

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

One suspect was caught on camera. It’s likely his license plate was too. But as policing on Pawleys Island goes high tech, there is still room for cold cash.

A Pawleys Island homeowner this week offered a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever stole three televisions from his oceanfront home last month.

Police Chief Mike Fanning said it’s the first time he knows of that a reward has been offered through the police department. The case is also the first since the town installed cameras to read license plates of cars entering and leaving the island.

The break-in occurred around 8:45 p.m. on Nov. 15, a Friday, at 298 Atlantic Avenue. The house was undergoing renovation and workers had just reinstalled a surveillance camera. It showed a man, possibly in his early 20s, walk up the front steps.

“He looks behind him, then goes out of view,” Fanning said. “The camera was just low enough that he could reach it.”

The burglar turned the camera away from the steps.

Police posted an image from the surveillance camera on Twitter. That produced a call from a Florida woman who said it looked like her ex-husband. It turned out he was already in jail.

It’s likely there were two burglars, Fanning said, since one of the televisions was a 60-inch model and it was disconnected rather than ripped from the wall.

The burglars may have been frightened off since other electronics were found disconnected in the house, he said.

Police used the traffic cameras to check the registration of vehicles on the island a half hour before and after the break-in. There were a couple of dozen vehicles, but none that “jumped out at us,” Fanning said.

He hopes that the information from the cameras will be able to confirm any information that comes in as a result of the reward offer.

Town Council agreed to install the cameras earlier this year after 13 break-ins at island homes in January. A Georgetown man was arrested and pleaded guilty to five of those break-ins. He was on probation at the time.

Since the camera began operating in September, they have led to citations for two traffic violations. They also helped police track down the teens who threw items from a pickup truck at a cyclist.

Initially, Fanning estimated the cameras missed a third of the license plates either because of poor lighting or because the plates were obscured. The manufacturer made adjustments.

“They’re working pretty good now,” Fanning said.

Anyone with information about the Atlantic Avenue burglary, such as suspicious cars in the area or someone trying to sell televisions, can contact Investigator Jono Fairfield at 843-241-6598.

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