An AR-15 rifle stolen from a Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office detective’s patrol vehicle in a string of vehicle break-ins on Tuesday morning has been recovered in Clayton County, Forsyth County authorities say.
According to sheriff’s office spokesman Cpl. Doug Rainwater, the rifle was recovered and a suspect was identified in the spree after a day-long coordinated effort between Forsyth County authorities, the Clayton County Police Department and Greene County Sheriff's Office.
"We have identified a suspect, we have recovered the AR-15 and this investigation is naturally continuing," Rainwater told the Forsyth County News on Wednesday afternoon.
Authorities say that the AR-15 was one of two personal weapons that were stolen from a local detective’s unmarked vehicle on Tuesday morning after thieves targeted three northeast Forsyth County neighborhoods, burglarizing dozens of unlocked vehicles.
On Tuesday, Rainwater said that investigators believe between 1:30-3:30 a.m., two thieves walked from driveway to driveway in the Wild Meadows, Whisper Point and Orchard Lakes subdivisions off Hopewell Road checking for unlocked vehicles and items to steal.
As many as 26 vehicles, including a marked law enforcement vehicle from a neighboring jurisdiction and the unmarked detective’s vehicle, and the garage of one residence were entered by thieves during the incident.
A TASER and a Dodge Charger were also stolen during the incident, authorities said.
Rainwater could not say how the suspect was identified and the AR-15 was recovered, but stated that detectives used "very clever investigative tools" to pinpoint where they thought the stolen items were taken.
"We have identified a suspect, he is not in our jail yet because of different crimes we believe he has committed in different counties," he said. "Once we get all the charges for him, we will issue warrants for him."
Rainwater said that once warrants are issued for the suspect, they will be able to identify him to the public and bring him to Forsyth County to stand trial.
Authorities are also looking into a spree of similar crimes that were committed earlier in Greene County that they believe are connected to the break-ins on Tuesday, Rainwater said.
Working in conjunction with the other two agencies, he said that they hope to identify a second suspect and recover more stolen items.
"We're still working it today, big-time," he said. "And we're hoping to recover the second weapon."