SCSO captures suspected Lakeland package thief

SCSO badgeOne young Grinch went to jail Thursday on charges of grabbing Christmas packages off Lakeland porches. He was nabbed thanks to a crystal-clear home security camera, alert homeowners and the work of Shelby County Sheriff’s Office pros.

The suspect is Deandre Williams, 18, arrested after someone spotted his car in the Wendy’s parking lot at U.S. 64 and Canada Road. One Lakeland resident has clear surveilliance video of the suspect taking packages, as well as the escape vehicle he used. The suspect has also confessed, according to Earle Farrell, SCSO public information officer.

Williams was arrested and booked into the Shelby County Jail.

Initially arrested on two counts of theft under $500, Williams is now linked to seven thefts that have upped the charges to grand larceny. It’s suspected that he stole packages worth more than $1,000, and a lot of the stolen goods were found at his home, Farrell said.

Williams is also a familiar suspect. He was arrested in October for two thefts.

“It’s very disappointing,” Farrell said. “Especially someone as young as this beginning a life of crimes—especially stealing Christmas presents from other children and adults.”

Sgt. Kris Miller and detectives Michelle Garrison and Spencer Douglas did an outstanding job tracking him down, arresting him and getting him to confess, Farrell said.

Another man suspected of being the driver for the crimes was taken into custody but released when he couldn’t be positively identified and he didn’t confess.

Prevention and quick responses are the keys to fighting such crimes. With a little forethought, citizens can make it harder for criminals to target them during and after Christmas. Farrell urges people not to put flat-screen TV boxes and packaging for other costly items out on the curb in plain sight for trash pickup.

“So people don’t know this is where the new TV is,” he said.

Home owners also can install home security cameras, which are increasingly cheap and able to delivery clear-as-a-bell evidence of crime. Farrell said, “That’s how we’re catching them and convicting them.”

Neighbors can help by being alert and involved. They should call law enforcement immediately if they notice someone trailing along behind a U.S. Postal Service van or a FedEx/UPS truck. That suspect might be a potential thief checking out his next targets.

Parents also can stop their children’s crimes early by noticing if they have an unexpected influx of belongings, Farrell said. “Be aware where it’s coming from.”

Written by Carolyn Bahm, Express editor. Contact her at (901) 433-9138 or via email to