‘Opportunists’ charged in local car burglaries

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 23, 2001

Over the past two weeks, two Jackson residents were allegedly staking out parking lots in Natchez to burglarize unlocked cars.

Jerome A. Banks, 41, and Wanda R. Chancellor, 40, were each being held on $30,000 bonds at the Natchez Jail Wednesday for three counts of burglary.

They are also wanted in connection with vehicle burglaries in Adams County and Brookhaven and car theft in Atlanta. Banks also is a suspect in a residential burglary in Jackson.

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Other counts may be added; Natchez officers are investigating up to 15 cases locally.

&uot;They were opportunists,&uot; said Natchez Police Sgt. Jody Waldrop, &uot;They would go to a store and just sit in their car.&uot;

As people parked their cars in the parking lot the suspects would watch to see which cars were left unlocked and then burglarize those cars looking for purses and wallets, Waldrop said.

Most of the crimes took place in South Natchez around U.S. 61 South and Seargeant S. Prentiss Drive. Some victims did not even realize they had been burglarized thinking instead that they had lost various items, officials said.

Officers also recovered items that originated from other cities such as Vicksburg, Brookhaven and Ridgeland.

&uot;We recovered property from surrounding towns between here in Jackson,&uot; Waldrop said.

With the help of a vehicle description, Natchez officers eventually traced the suspects to a local hotel room where they found stolen property.

Last Friday, as officers waited at the hotel for the suspects they heard a report of another vehicle burglary at the Mississippi Highway Safety Patrol Driver License Bureau on U.S. 61 North in Adams County, said Natchez Police Chief Willie Huff.