RCSD, Columbia Police arrest man dubbed the ‘cigarette bandit’ accused of committing 15 burglaries

RCSD, Columbia Police arrest man accused of committing 15 burglaries

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott and Columbia Police Chief Skip Holbrook held a joint news conference to announce the arrest of an accused burglar on Friday.

Sammie McCullough, 49, has been arrested and is accused of 15 burglaries throughout northeast Columbia beginning February 17th. Several locations were burglarized multiple times by McCullough, investigators said.

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said McCullough would only spend a matter of minutes inside the businesses, mostly gas stations and Dollar General stores.

While there, Lott said McCullough was caught on surveillance video stealing cartons of cigarettes and beer. In many cases, Lott said he would use a brick to break a window, but would be gone by the time law enforcement arrived.

Lott said McCullough would then take the stolen goods to local “mom and pop” shops and sell them for a profit.

“We’re not talking about Corner Pantry or these established places, but these mom and pop places will buy it,” Lott said. “ They get a good deal on it and then they turn around and make a profit on it.”

Law enforcement received a tip on Wednesday, just a day after McCullough’s latest alleged burglary, and arrested him at his home. Lott said he confessed to the burglaries. He is facing five counts of second-degree burglary and two counts of larceny. Lott said the investigation continues into the stores that received the alleged stolen goods.

“These places that are buying like that, they know it’s been stolen,” Lott said. “So, in their mind, they’re getting a good deal, they’re making a profit, but they know the stuff is stolen, we’re just not ignoring that.”

The Columbia Police Department and sheriff’s department collaborated on the investigation, as the burglaries took place in both department’s jurisdictions. McCullough’s arrest record dates back to the 1980s.

“This man was taunting local businesses with his brazenness. There was concern that with each successful burglary, he would be emboldened and encouraged to commit more violent crimes," Sheriff Lott said.

You can watch the full news conference here:

LIVE: RCSD, Columbia Police to hold news conference on recent crime trends>> https://bit.ly/2HBlhym

Posted by WIS TV on Friday, March 22, 2019

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