HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) Four people have been officially charged Friday afternoon after a shoplifting incident uncovered a probable rolling meth lab Thursday.
Police tell WMBF News they found no evidence of an active meth lab Thursday afternoon, but they did find finished meth product and remnants of a previous meth cook.
Sgt. Robert Kegler, spokesman for the Horry County Police Department, said the incident began when employees of the Kohl's located at the South Strand Commons in Surfside Beach called police around 1 p.m. in regards to a shoplifting incident.
Sgt. Kegler said when police arrived, they apprehended the suspects, searched their vehicle, and discovered what appeared to be materials used to produce meth.
Officers arrested Joseph Brooks, 33 of Murrells Inlet, Trevor Giebell, 28 of Columbus, NC, Lauren James, of Cowpens, SC, and Ashley McGill, of Travelers Rest, SC, both 25, in relation to the incident.
Brooks has been charged with obtaining goods by false pretenses and receiving stolen goods. Giebell has been charged with shoplifting and giving false information to law enforcement. James has been charged with two counts of shoplifting and giving false information to law enforcement. McGill has been charged with two counts of shoplifting.
Additionally, all four are facing manufacturing methamphetamine charges.
Following the apprehension of the suspects, police then cleared the area surrounding the vehicle, until they determined around 4:30 p.m. the vehicle did not contain an active meth lab. The vehicle was then towed the vehicle from the lot.
Businesses nearby were not forced to shut down during the incident, which meant Hibbett Sporting Goods Manager Adam Gross saw the entire incident unfold through the store window front.
"You never think something like this is going to happen in Surfside [Beach]," Gross said. "And here I thought it was going to be another long, boring Thursday."
Another Surfside Beach resident who chose to identify herself only as "Lynda", said she worries meth is finally taking hold in Surfside Beach.
"It's very concerning," 'Lynda' said. "We live right across the street from [South Strand Commons], we don't want our neighborhood to go down."
But during a phone conversation with WMBF News Thursday night, Surfside Beach Police Chief Mike Frederick said meth in Surfside Beach has been a problem on the rise for almost two years.
"When I arrived back here just two years ago the number of meth cases we worked was almost zero," Frederick explained. "It hasn't reached anywhere near epidemic status, but now we deal with several cases a month every month."
And according to Cdr. Bill Knowles of the Horry County Drug Enforcement Unit, meth is a problem on the rise in the county as well.
"We have seen a gradual increase in the use of meth at the county level," Knowles said.
"Lynda" said she thinks the increase in meth use may be due to the poor economy, but hopes it is not a sign more rolling meth labs could be on the way.
"People don't have jobs right now, people are concerned, people need money," 'Lynda' said. "The economy is not improving, [a rolling meth lab] could happen again tomorrow."