Four-wheeler thefts have increased throughout Laurel and Jones County and investigators are working to break up a suspected crime ring that’s believed to be responsible for stealing them. After the most recent theft on Dec. 16, law enforcement is asking everyone to be wary.
Thieves hit Proflow Motorsports and stole a pair of four-wheelers, but the theft from the Jones County business is far from the only one.
“This is a really big investigation with a lot of working parts because of how widespread it is,” Laurel police Investigator Brad Anderson said. “We strongly urge the community to lock up their ATVs and anything else, because (thieves) will take it. Pay attention to your communities because they will drive by and see those ATVs and come back and take it that night.”
The LPD is searching for several suspects, but they have been unable to identify them. (Videos of suspects are available at leader-call.com). LPD has made arrests, but there are more suspects still on the loose.
In July, a side-by-side was stolen from Honda of Laurel and is also believed to be connected with the current thefts in the area.
Ivan Smith, 35, and Jhavon Grayson, 21, were arrested last week for commercial burglary, but the extent of their involvement was unclear, officials said. It is believed that they are connected to the incidents in some way, but investigators have not disclosed their involvement so far or if there are any connections.
Smith was arrested on commercial burglary charges on Wednesday at 12:09 am and charged with providing false information to law enforcement officers.
Grayson was arrested for burglary on Dec. 23 and has since been released.
Grayson was arrested earlier this year on aggravated assault charges in a May shooting at a party.
The LPD is working with the JCSD to unravel the extent of the ATV thefts.
“Tracking four-wheeler thefts is really hard because a lot of times the victims don’t have the (Vehicle Identification Numbers) for the four-wheeler,” said JCSD Investigator Sgt. JD Carter. “We are looking at many connections to these thefts from here in Jones County to thefts in Harrison County with similarities. So, with so many thefts in such a large area and the ability to easily hide an ATV, it makes it very difficult to track them.
“Just as soon as they are stolen, they are taken to a different county at the very least. I was told that if you find an ATV in the same place as it was stolen, then you are very lucky.”
The Jasper County Sheriff’s Department had 12 reported stolen ATVs in 2022.