Three South Florida residents charged here this week with entering vehicles have been involved in the same activity from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to Atlanta, according to local police.
Thomasville is their last stop. The suspects were denied bond and are behind bars at the Thomas County Jail.
Surveillance video from the Everett-Milton YMCA, 103. S. Dawson St., shows a silver BMW with a Maryland license plate driving through the YMCA parking lot and parking in different spots. As soon as a vehicle parked and was unoccupied, a man would jump from the BMW, look through windows of the parked vehicle and yank on vehicle doors.
Police were contacted, and an alert was issued for the BMW. An officer saw the car in the parking lot at Flash Foods, 2667 E. Pine Tree Blvd.
As the officer approached the car, the driver, Antuan Eangelo Trowell, 35, Fort Lauderdale Fla., got out of the vehicle and attempted to walk to the store. A passenger, Deven Ryan Gresham, 25, Oakland Park, Fla., got out of the vehicle and attempted to walk away. Both men got back in the BMW as ordered by the officer.
Trowell began to reach in his back pocket when the officer asked for identification, then drove off at a high rate of speed.
According to an incident report, Trowell showed no regard for pedestrian and vehicular traffic in the area.
The rented 2013 BMW ran a stop light at Remington Avenue and East Pine Tree and headed east, continuing at a high rate of speed.
As the officer pursued the car near Remington and U.S. 19, he saw people motioning to him from the rear of 2004 Ga. 122.
The citizens told the officer the vehicle went behind the building and that a man ran across railroad tracks and into woods before climbing a fence.
The officer found the vehicle and multiple items suspects dropped in the woods.
A number of other officers arrived, and three suspects were arrested — Gresham, Trowell and Derriane Antwaune Woods, 32, Fort Lauderdale.
Woods and Gresham each are charged with two counts entering automobile. Trowell is charged with two counts of entering auto and one count each of aggressive driving and fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer.
Lt. Eric Hampton, Thomasville Police Department public information officer, said the men also entered vehicles at Thomasville Eye Center on East Pine Tree and at the Butler-Mason YMCA off Remington.
Hampton said the men were breaking into vehicles in cities along interstate highways and in communities near interstates.
“They are preying on parking lots of gyms,” he said.
For the second time in recent days, citizens helped police locate a suspect.
“This is another incident where citizens assisted officers by pointing out the direction the suspect had fled,” Hampton said.
Senior reporter Patti Dozier can be reached at (229) 226-2400, ext. 1820.