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South Carolina man accused of multiple church burglaries

Officers from the Kershaw County Sheriff's Office arrested a man on seven charges of burglary and 3 charges of obtaining money through false pretenses. He is currently residing in the Kershaw County Detention Center. It is unclear if he has pled or whether he has retained a criminal defense attorney.

According to the officers, the man broke into and stole electronics from Buffalo Baptist Church and the Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church. He faces additional charges of breaking into the Dekalb Baptist Church twice as well as burglarizing two local businesses.

Police had received a description matching the suspect from one of the pastors of the burglarized churches. Officers then saw the suspect, who is not a South Carolina resident, in Lancaster County and detained him until representatives from the Kershaw County Sheriff's Office arrived. The man reportedly had several stolen items in his car at the time.

Officers may constitutionally search a vehicle if it is reasonable that they do so. However, the definitions of "reasonable" and "unreasonable" can be unclear, and often there are arguments to be made either way. The final determination is often specific to the circumstances.

If a driver consents to the search or an officer has probable cause to believe that the vehicle contains evidence of criminal activity, the search is likely reasonable and Constitutional. However, in a case such as this, where the man was detained until more officers arrived from another county, the reasonableness of a search may not be clear cut. The search's legality may turn on something such as whether the allegedly stolen items in the car were in plain view or at what point the officers decided a search was necessary.

There is no word on whether or not the man consented to the search. The suspect has a long history of felony and misdemeanor arrests, including at least one prior arrest for burglary.

Source: WLTX, "Suspect in multiple church burglaries arrested," Derry London, Sept. 25, 2012

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