SURFSIDE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Police in Surfside Beach announced Sunday officers arrested Bion Legrand Shoemaker III, 45, of Surfside Beach, in connection with a string of residential and vehicle break-ins.
According to a news release, police recovered stolen property linking Shoemaker to the burglaries that occurred over the last several months. He was charged with three counts of second-degree burglary to a residence and one count of auto breaking.
"We are pleased to be able to recover some of the victim's property in these cases. This is still a very fluid investigation," said Surfside Beach Police Chief Rodney Keziah. "We anticipate recovering more property and possibly making additional charges."
According to the J. Reuben Long Detention Center website, Shoemaker was also charged with simple possession of marijuana, unlawful carrying of a pistol.
Teal Britton, with Horry County Schools, said Shoemaker started at St. James High School in 2011 and transferred to Socastee High School this year. He did not show up to school Aug. 17, one day before his Aug. 18 arrest. He teaches special education.
A bond has been set for Shoemaker and he is on administrative leave pending an investigation.
While Shoemaker was arrested and charged with the crimes, Surfside Beach police said the case is evolving.
"We won't stop until we know that we have recovered as much property for the victims as possible," said SBPD Lt. Kenneth Hofmann.
While this case involves car burglaries, Hofmann said homes were hit hard, adding everything from televisions, to documents, to art work were taken from residences.
"A lot of times we see it limited to just televisions in some of these burglaries but this was... I mean you name it, and it was taken from the residence," Hofmann said.
According to police, while some of the stolen items were recovered at Shoemaker's residence and inside of his car, others were found at pawn shops.
Hofmann said this was a mix of daytime and nighttime forced entries and the homes hit were vacation homes.
One neighbor told WMBF News she knew of several homes that were completely "cleared out," and now police are realizing the suspect may be tied to many months of burglaries.
"That's part of what makes this investigation so complicated and time-consuming, because we're having to go back and backtrack and pull up other reports," Hoffman said. "And now that we know who we are dealing with and the style of burglary that we are dealing with, we are continuing to work backwards now."
Shoemaker's neighbors tell WMBF News they are in disbelief, never imagining he would be behind the recent break-ins.
While many victims continue to make their way to town to speak with law enforcement, police hope knowing some of their belongings are safe is making the trip a little easier.
"There's no relief that we can give them to the fact they've been victimized by this," Hoffman said. "But we want to give them the security that we will get the items back to them and that they know that the police department is working 24 hours a day to bring these people to justice."
Surfside Beach police are also working with surrounding law enforcement agencies to link cases back to their investigation and they expect the stolen items to continue to pop up around town.