COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Deputies have arrested a man police say is responsible for 21 armed robberies in one month.
WIS has reported about the string of robberies that deputies said were likely connected, but since our last report the number of crimes has more than doubled.
The robberies happened in both Lexington and Richland counties from mid-October until mid-November, Sheriff Leon Lott said.
“He was not going to stop,” Lott said. “He wasn’t even slowing down. He was still continuing.”
Most recently, Lott says the suspect robbed two different stores on Monday, Nov. 16 -- including a BP on Two Notch Road and a Dollar General on Broad River Road.
Police from several agencies arrested Deveon Belk on Tuesday morning at a home in Lexington.
So far, Belk is charged in five armed robberies under RCSD’s jurisdiction and is a suspect in three others.
“He was just plaguing all of the Midlands with these robberies,” Lott said. “Fortunately, nobody was physically hurt…He is just an example of individuals that we got that [are] not going to follow the law. It doesn’t matter that they get arrested, get convicted, serve a little bit of time, get back on the streets. They are just going to go right back and do the same thing.”
Lott says he and the leaders of other agencies believe Belk is the man responsible for 21 crimes across the jurisdictions of Irmo, Columbia, and Richland and Lexington counties.
Irmo Police Chief Courtney Dennis said a recent robbery at a convenience store seems to fit Belk’s MO, but they are waiting on more forensic evidence.
These are the crimes for which Belk currently faces charges:
- Oct. 25 -- 6930 North Main Street, Shell Station -- charged with armed robbery, kidnapping
- Oct. 26 -- 8308 Winnsboro Rd, Exxon Station -- charged with armed robbery and two counts of kidnapping
- Nov. 10 -- 6246 Two Notch Rd, Dollar General -- charged with armed robbery
- Nov. 15 -- 1615 Decker Blvd, SKS Mart -- charged with armed robbery, kidnapping
- Nov. 16 -- 7145 Broad River Rd, Dollar General -- charged with armed robbery, kidnapping
Lott said there is no pattern to which locations would be targeted.
Toward the beginning of the crime spree, police reported that the robber kept his hands in his pocket, as if he had a gun, while demanding cash.
But by mid-November, victims told police the suspect pulled a gun on them during robberies. Two victims in Richland County said they were forced into a bathroom or closet at gunpoint.
Lott said Belk is a dangerous person who had to be caught to be stopped.
“I hope he goes away for a long time,” Lott said. “I hope we all retire before he gets out.”
When asked why the suspect was able to commit similar crimes 21 times, Lott said Belk would move quickly.
“He would go in, make like he was going to buy something, pull the gun, do the robbery, run out the store,” Lott explained. “There was a getaway car that we recovered. He would be gone. We are talking less than a minute. By the time the call came into us, he would be out of the area.”
But Lott said they were able to catch him because “he made mistakes.” The sheriff wouldn’t explain what those mistakes were at risk of giving other people ideas.
Belk is currently being held at Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center.