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Three arrested in area auto theft cases
Three arrested in area auto theft cases
  • Investigations continue in other theft cases in Winfield, Hamilton

b rea.jpg     s galbraith.jpg    m stewart.jpg

Brandon Rea                        Skylar Galbraith                              Mallory Stewart

Article contributed by The Journal Record
News Editor
Authorities have arrested three in connection with a recent string of auto thefts in Marion County, while the search continues for others involved in similar incidents in both the Hamilton and Winfield areas.
Eight vehicles have been stolen in the two communities in recent weeks with an arrest in a Hamilton case coming shortly after a pickup truck was stolen there.
Brandon Ray, 33, Hamilton, was arrested on Jan. 8 for his alleged involvement with this case and is being held under a $60,000 bond by officials at the Marion County Jail in Hamilton.
Ray has been charged with first-degree theft of property, attempting to elude, resisting arrest, second-degree criminal trespassing and third-degree theft of property.
In addition to this case, the other three vehicles involved in the Hamilton cases were taken from a local used auto dealership a private business on Highway 278 and private residence.
Hamilton Police Department Investigator Wade Hollis has confirmed at least one other arrest from the Hamilton thefts is expected.
Hollis also noted there has been no pattern in the cases in terms of the make and model of the vehicles stolen or the time of day the thefts occurred.
The Hamilton investigator shared information on cases in his community in an interview with the Journal Record on Wednesday, Feb. 3.
While a newspaper writer was gathering information on the case at the Winfield Police Department, Hollis walked into the office to work with officers there to compare notes in the recent rash of auto thefts. The Hamilton investigator agreed to participate in the interview with Winfield Police Chief Bobby Blaylock.
Arrested in connection with at least one of the Winfield cases are Skylar Galbraith, 28, Guin, and Mallory Paige Stewart, 26, Glen Allen.
These arrests were made just before noon on Monday, Feb. 1. Each is being held at the Fayette County Jail without bond.
Each has been charged with first-degree receiving stolen property and five counts of illegal possession of credit/debit cards. Authorities have noted the suspects are believed to be involved in all but one of the four auto thefts in Winfield.
Galbraith has a prior criminal history.
Winfield Police Department Investigator Brett Burleson said officers had been seeking two men in connection with the theft of a Chevy Camaro before receiving a tip which led them to a home in Glen Allen where Stewart and Galbraith were hiding.
Although neither of the two suspects is known to have been armed, Burleson said the two refused to surrender for more than 30 minutes when officers from various departments first arrived at the scene.
Eventually, the suspects surrendered to authorities after Stewart opened the front door to the home to Winfield officer Lt. Shane Dickinson, who was able to convince the suspects to surrender.
Burleson confirmed that the stolen Camaro was discovered near the home with a Kia and a Ford Escape also found in two different locations in the area within the next 24 hours.
The four stolen vehicles in Winfield had been taken from homes in Arrowhead Village, Meadowood Subdivision, Shadowood Apartments and Mason Road.
Three cars and a pickup were among the four vehicles stolen in Winfield. The first to be reported was the pickup in Arrowhead Village, which was taken on Jan. 19.
Hollis and Blaylock credited numerous local departments for assisting in these cases, including Marion County Sheriff’s  Department, Fayette County Sheriff’s Department, and police departments in Hackleburg, Brilliant, Fayette, Guin and the State Bureau of Investigation.
While such was not the case in all cases, Blaylock said more than one of the stolen vehicles were taken after owners had left the keys in the car. The remaining vehicles taken were simply “hot-wired’’ to start the ignition.
With this in mind, Blaylock offered recommendations on the ways owners can lessen the chance of becoming a victim of auto theft.
“First of all, do not leave the keys in the car,’’ he said. “We are not living in yesterday anymore when folks could just leave their homes unlocked and run off to church or town. Take basic precautions.
“Do not leave valuables in sight which might tempt others to take your car or at least break in. Just a few seconds of added precaution can make a world of difference.’’
(When a defendant is charged with a crime, the charge is merely an accusation until or unless the defendant is proven guilty.)
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