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May 7, 2008

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Good Break Leads To Recovery Of Items Stolen In Middle School Burglary
Same Suspect Implicated In Recent Maysville Elementary School Break-In
Principal Chuck Bell took last Thursday night’s burglary of Commerce Middle School personally. His laptop computer was one of four taken in the break-in.
But a rare convergence of events gave Bell his computer back — along with everything else taken from CMS — and solved the April 27 burglary of Maysville Elementary School as well.
Jackson County deputies arrested Michael Kevin Banks, 36, Hwy. 82 Spur, Friday morning at the Super 8 Motel in Gainesville. They recovered the four laptops taken from CMS, along with some computer accessories and more than $300 cash earned by the school’s Relay for Life Team. They also recovered a camera taken in the Maysville Elementary School robbery, said Major David Cochran of the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department.
It was a strange break in the case.
Jackson County was seeking Banks because “he had absconded from sex offender status” by cutting off his electronic bracelet monitor, Cochran said.
“Hall County and Jackson County were working together,” said Cochran. “Their information blended with ours.”
Officials had a description of Banks’ vehicle, and Jackson County got word he was at the motel. Officials contacted Hall County and went to the motel.
There, they found the CMS computers. Case solved. But the CMS burglary strongly resembled the Maysville Elementary School burglary, and officials said they were able to tie Banks to that crime. In addition, Cochran said Hall County has a number of cases in which Banks is a suspect.
“They told us that if it had just been a few hours later, the computers and such would probably have been sold or pawned,” said Bell. “There’s nothing like getting it back. We were just absolutely lucky that the law enforcement people were able to arrest him the morning after the night he broke into our school.”
The thief broke the glass out of a back door to the school, which at the time did not have a burglar alarm system (an alarm system is being installed). He entered numerous classrooms and the office, breaking the glass out of any locked doors.
“The investigators said it was pretty clear he used a crow bar,” Cook said. “He pried his way into our vault with the crow bar.”
Cook said that between $300 and $400 in money raised for the Relay for Life was taken, all but $50 of which was recovered.
It was the first burglary at the middle school since it was built, although the old middle school was struck a couple of times similarly. Those burglaries resulted in the installation of a burglar alarm, but while the new school was wired for a security system, none was ever installed, according to James E. “Mac” McCoy, city superintendent of schools.
Commerce investigator Chad Knight said Maysville officers contacted the Commerce department after their break-in, trying to determine if the two men convicted of the much earlier CMS break-ins might have been involved.
Police Chief John Gaissert said Banks is also being considered as a suspect for a recent burglary at the Commerce Recreation Department office in which a laptop computer was stolen.
“Hall County has him on a number of crimes,” he said.


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