Lee sheriff's office makes burglary arrests

LEESBURG, Ga. -- A suspicious neighbor's tip led to the arrests Saturday of two Albany men in connection with the theft of some $7,000 worth of athletic shoes and video gaming equipment, according to the Lee County Sheriff's Office.

Sheriff Reggie Rachals said at a Monday news conference the arrests of Brandon Curtis Smith and Jamie Antonio Morgan, both 24, were the results of "citizen cooperation and good police work."

"Getting concerned citizens involved is a big part of what we do," Rachals told reporters gathered at his office. "No matter what we do, we're not going to be able to cover everything by ourselves. That's where a neighborhood watch program comes in handy; and while we don't have one in the county, this shows how it helps us stop crime.

"A person near an apartment at 107-A Winding Way Road noticed suspicious activity and called dispatch. Dispatch notified us, and two of our officers -- Capt. Brendon Browning and Deputy April Morris -- responded. They caught the suspects a short ways away from the apartment on Old Leesburg Road and questioned them."

Lt. Col. Chris Owens, LSO's chief investigator, said Morgan and Smith were charged with burglary. Among the items taken were 17 pairs of athletic shoes, 17 miscellaneous blu-ray DVDs, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 video gaming systems, 21 Xbox games, three PlayStation games, a digital video recorder and "various other small items."

Owens said the sheriff's office would log and photograph the goods, which were on display at the news conference Monday, before returning them to the owner.

"Yes, we know who the owner is; he's been notified of the arrests," Owens said.

Rachals said LSO got the call about "suspicious activity" at 10:45 a.m. Saturday and responded to the Winding Way address. On the way to the scene, Browning and Morris noticed two young men walking on Old Leesburg Road.

"They realized the law was in the area, so (Smith and Morgan) left the scene on foot," Rachals said. "They were seen walking north and were taken into custody by our officers. One of them left their vehicle at the scene, and it was later traced back to him."

Smith and Morgan, who have South Mock Road addresses, are being held in the Lee County Jail on charges of burglary and forced entry. A jail spokeswoman said Morgan also faces a marijuana possession charge. Both had their first court appearances on Sunday, but bond was not set for either.

"We'd like to remind citizens to be on the lookout during this time of year," Rachals said. "I think we do a pretty good job of keeping crime down in Lee County, but we definitely have our share. One of the biggest things is paying attention and reporting any suspicious activity.

"Some people might say that some (suspicious activity) is too small to report to authorities, but a lot of crimes are solved on something small."