JOHNSONVILLE, SC (WMBF) - Police in Johnsonville have seen a unique way burglars are able to burglarize homes, without the homeowners knowing until it's too late.
Police said some homes were targeted up to eight times, before the homeowners even filed a police report.
"We had been receiving some reports from the last few months where some homeowners thought that someone was entering their residents. Some things were missing, but they weren't sure how the suspects were getting in," said Johnsonville Police Chief Ron Douglas.
Johnsonville Police Chief Ron Douglas said those reports came in during the course of a few months, until there was a break in the case on Tuesday, July 22.
"An observant neighbor saw a suspect entering a residence through a window and a short time later we discovered there was a burglary at that house and there was a couple hundred dollars in coins missing," he said.
Police said shortly after, they caught 18-year-old Matthew Royal trying to exchange those stolen coins for cash.
"And that lead to the discovery that he had been involved in numerous other burglaries in the neighborhood," said Douglas.
Chief Douglas says Royal can be linked to more than 20 other home burglaries.
"This involves numerous houses some of them we don't even know about yet," said Douglas.
Police believe Royal was not acting alone.
Nicholas Godwin, 17, of Johnsonville was booked at the Florence County Detention Center on four counts of burglary and one count of larceny. Investigators believe he is in connection to the burglaries in Johnsonville.
Investigators said the group of suspected criminals, burglarized homes in a unique way, causing victims to simply believe they misplaced items.
"A normal burglar goes in breaks something to get in takes everything they want and it's a onetime deal. In these cases the suspect would go into a window steal valuables reseal the window and come back again and again," said Douglas.
Investigators said those burglars took small amounts of cash and jewelry, each time they went in.
"Check your windows and make sure they are secure and not just that they look secure but make sure they are definitely secure," said Douglas.
Police said three guns, hundreds of dollars in cash and numerous pieces of jewelry were taken.
Police said they were able to recover some items, and are in the process of returning them to their owner.