Decoy safe with tracked teddy bear helped police locate serial bar thief

Published: Jul. 24, 2023 at 8:49 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 24, 2023 at 8:50 PM EDT
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HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - Staff members at Sneaky Beagle said a teddy bear with an AirTag inside of it, helped police connect 52-year-old Samuel Smith to a series of burglaries targeted at Horry County restaurants.


Records show Smith is facing nine counts of second-degree burglary four months and nine restaurants later. His arrest comes over a handful of recent break-ins at bars like Handley’s, Doyle’s Pub & Grub, the Old Bull & Bush Pub and Eatery, and the Sneaky Beagle.

Some staff members tell WMBF News they heard about the other break-ins, but never thought they’d see one of their own.

Kitchen Manager, Thomas Erskine told WMBF News, Smith broke into their business three times.

“A window was broken or something was moved on the floor. I kinda knew something was wrong. As soon as I saw that I let the owner know and we were able to get it figured out throughout that,” he said.

It was after the second time, he said, staff crafted a clever plan to stop the burglaries.

“I think one of the guests that came in had ended up leaving a stuffed animal and we ended up putting an AirTag inside of the stuffed animal,” said Erskine. “We had two safes at that point, the dummy safe and our actual safe.”

Horry County Police arrest warrants show during the fourth burglary at the Sneaky Beagle on July 6, Smith took a decoy safe that contained an Apple AirTag. The tracking device later pinged at Smith’s home 30 minutes after the burglary and later helped authorities connect him to other burglaries in the area.

Smith is being held at J. Reuben Long Detention Center under no bond.

Stay with WMBF News for updates.