Four Dacula teens are in jail after being charged in connection with several Hamilton Mill car break-ins and more charges are possible police say.
Christopher Walter Kraweic, 19, of 740 Roland Manor Drive in Dacula and Duncan Agustus Grove, 18, of 2061 Amberly Crossing Lane in Dacula were arrested early on July 28 along with student Stephen Larry Wayne Griffin, 17, of 733 Bartow Drive, Dacula. A four suspect, Mountain View High School student Nathan Best, 17, of 1411 Fairbrooke Court in Dacula, surrendered to police later that day. Each of the four suspects are currently charged with four counts of entering auto.
Police say the four teens broke into several cars in the Hamilton Mill subdivision between the hours of 4 p.m. on Wednesday, July 27 and 6 a.m. on Thursday, July 28.
According to Gwinnett County Police Department public information officer Cpl. Jake Smith, officers were on patrol in the Dacula subdivision when they saw a suspicious vehicle.
“Upon looking into it, they saw what could possibly be items stolen from cars,” Smith said. “They’d been made well aware of the problems we’ve been having in the area with entering autos.”
Inside the vehicle, officers could see a number of cell phones and GPS units, more than a normal amount for one vehicle, Smith added.
Officers staked out the vehicle and eventually saw four young men approach the car. When officers attempted to make contact, the teens fled.
Several hours later, a concerned citizen in Dacula’s Belfaire subdivision called after seeing four teenage boys sleeping at a picnic table in the neighborhood common area.
“The officers responded there and then took three of those suspects into custody,” Smith said. Best, the fourth suspect, eluded capture but surrendered to authorities later that day. The teens had traveled several miles on foot from the scene of the entering autos.
“The distance between where the crimes actually occurred and where they were ultimately discovered and arrested, was about eight miles and that’s by road,” Smith said. “Presumably they ran not on the road but through the woods and across golf courses and things like that. They covered several miles on foot.”
Authorities believe the suspects were trying to reach the home of one of the teens.
“At this time, each of those four have been charged with four counts of entering auto and a fifth one is under active investigation as we speak and the possibility of several more charges is also under investigation,” Smith said. “[Investigators] are basically going to take every report that they’ve had in the area for the past several months and compare it with these cases and see if anything matches up as far as evidence, descriptions and then of course whatever it is the suspects have to offer up themselves.”
Smith credited the alert Belfaire resident with potentially helping resolve dozens of unsolved cases of entering auto.
“I think the citizens in that area have taken this problem to heart,” Smith said. “It’s a very nice community, generally a very safe community, and they really are intolerant of that kind of activity in their community which is fantastic.”
Police have held at least -- in an attempt to educate residents about the problem and what they can do to avoid becoming a victim of crime.
“In this particular case, the citizen didn’t see these young men really doing anything but loitering, but she felt it suspicious enough in her mind to call in to the police and we think that’s fantastic. We would encourage any other citizens to do the same,” Smith said. “The concerned citizen in this case led directly to these cases being solved.”
The four arrests follow another set of arrests earlier this week. According to Smith, four 15-year-olds have also been charged with breaking into cars in Hamilton Mill. Details regarding those arrests are not currently available. Investigators are working to determine how many Hamilton Mill car break-ins may have been committed by those arrested and whether the incidents are connected to any other Dacula area entering autos.
In each of the four car break-ins reported Thursday night, the victims had left their vehicles unlocked. In three of the cases, GPS units were taken. Smith said officers were able to locate the victims by using the data stored in the GPS units.
Police encourage citizens to secure all valuables and keep car doors locked.
Kraweic, Grove, Griffin and Best remain in the Gwinnett County Detention Center. Bond for each teen has been set at $77,800.