Burglary spree ends with 3 arrests
by Wes Mayer
Two men and a juvenile, suspected of breaking into multiple vehicles and convenience stores across Coweta County, were arrested Saturday, according to authorities.
The two men, Michael Lawrence Andrews, 23, and Joshua Andrew Stasiulaitis, 25, and the 15-year-old juvenile are believed to be responsible for seven different crimes late Friday, said Lt. Col. Jimmy Yarbrough with the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office.
According to Yarbrough, the first burglary was reported around midnight when an employee of Academy Sports in Newnan Pavilion off Highway 34 East found her vehicle had been broken into in the parking lot. According to Investigator Elaine Jordan with the sheriff’s office, who headed the investigation, the thieves shattered one of the windows and stole a $10 jacket believing it was a purse.
The suspects then made six more stops around Newnan. According to Jordan, authorities believe the suspects next broke into a vehicle in the Hampton Inn parking lot on Bullsboro Drive and stole four large bags — containing recently purchased Christmas wreaths; they broke into a vehicle in the patients parking lot of Piedmont Newnan Hospital on Poplar Road and stole a GPS unit and speaker system; then they attempted to break into the Marathon gas station convenience store on Highway 16, but failed, Jordan said.
Around 2 a.m. Saturday, thieves broke into the South Forks BP gas station on Corinth Road, Yarbrough said. Fortunately, a Coweta County Sheriff’s Office deputy who lived nearby heard the convenience store’s alarm and saw one of the suspects fleeing with what looked like a case or two of beer. The deputy called Coweta 911 to give a description of the vehicle, a green van, and a lookout was placed on the vehicle throughout the county, Yarbrough said.
After the burglary, Jordan was called to the scene, and she reviewed surveillance tapes to identify possible suspects. After some time, Jordan was able to identify one as a black male, now believed to be Andrews, who broke through the store’s window with a metal pipe, she said.
According to Jordan, investigators believe the trio then broke into the Chevron convenience store on McCollum Parkway, but the alarm sounded, and they fled the scene. They then visited the Texaco gas station on Temple Avenue, and tried to break into it, but they failed again and called it a night, Jordan said.
A few hours later, around 6 a.m., Newnan Police Officer Kyle LaChance was patrolling the Five Points area of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive at East Newnan Road, and he saw a green van matching the description, Jordan said. Because the van was acting suspiciously, LaChance drove toward it to check it out, so the van’s driver pulled into the 5 Points Grocery parking lot.
When LaChance approached the driver to ask what he was doing, the driver said he was getting gas, Jordan said. However, the gas station was closed. The driver was later identified as Stasiulaitis, a registered sex offender in Coweta, and LaChance placed him under arrest, according to authorities.
Jordan quickly arrived on scene, and searched the vehicle, finding some thick, shattered glass on the back seat’s floor board, she said. Stasiulaitis was then transported to the Coweta County Jail to be interviewed, Jordan said, and Andrews was later found and taken into custody as well.
According to Jordan, Andrews and Stasiulaitis will both be charged with burglary for breaking into the South Forks gas station, three counts of criminal attempt to commit burglary for the other gas stations and three counts of entering autos to commit theft for each car window they busted. The investigation is ongoing to determine the juvenile’s involvement and how many charges will be filed, and investigators are still working on recovering the stolen items, Jordan said.