Saluda County deputies say they have broken up one of the largest robbery rings in state history. Five men have been arrested for their involvement in more than 100 robberies across the state over the past year.
“That’s a lot of burglaries,” Saluda County Sheriff Jason Booth told South Carolina Radio Network, “They were stealing anything from guns to flat-screen televisions to any type of electronics.”
Stacy Walker and Tonnie Pace have been charged with multiple accounts of first and second degree burglary, as well as first and second degree larceny.
Booth called the men “professionals” who would time themselves to rob a home in less than 30 seconds. Deputies say the two admitted going into some of the homes at night while the owners were asleep.
“They’d take anything they could get their hands on in 30 seconds,” Sheriff Booth said.
Investigators said Walker and Pace would then sell the stolen goods to Luis Perez, a hardware store employee in Saluda. Perez would then sell the items on the street and at flea markets.
“They were selling 80-inch flat-screen television screen televisions for $125,” Booth said, “Browning and Remington firearms that are thousand-dollar weapons, they were selling for a hundred dollars.”
Perez has been charged with receiving stolen goods and unlawful possession of a firearm by an illegal alien.
Deputies first caught wind of the scheme when Saluda police officers made a traffic stop and found stolen guns in a car driven by Thomas Tolen. Detectives eventually linked Tolen to others in the ring and began tailing Walker and Pace for three weeks.
Booth said officers eventually caught the pair breaking into a house and arrested them on the spot.
Tolen is charged with drug possession and receiving stolen goods. A fifth man, Oliver Sandoval, was charged with possession of a sawed-off shotgun and unlawful possession of a firearm by an illegal alien.
Deputies from Greenwood, Edgefield, and Spartanburg counties helped in the investigation.