By EVAN JONES
Special to The Messenger
Two arrests made near the washout at Reelfoot Lake Thursday night have been linked to a rash of burglaries around the lake in both Lake and Obion counties.
The report of a suspected meth lab at a residence on Magnolia Harbor Loop brought more than 10 officers from the sheriff’s departments in Lake and Obion counties, plus the Tennessee Highway Patrol, to the scene around 8:30 p.m.
A third arrest was made Monday night in Obion County.
At the residence, Lake County Sheriff’s Department investigator Joe Vernon said officers observed an outboard gas tank that was similar to ones reported stolen from at least two Reelfoot resorts in Lake County.
Officers obtained a search warrant and they discovered dozens of items both in and outside of the residence that had been reported stolen over a period of weeks in both Lake and Obion counties. Items included tools, hunting gear, gas tanks and electronic devices.
Van Allyn Garrett, 44, faces charges of possession of drug paraphernalia, two counts of burglary and two counts of theft under $500. He is being held in the Lake County Jail on $3,500 bond. Obion County authorities also have a hold on him and he will face charges here.
Stephanie Griffin, 33, faces charges of possession of drug paraphernalia and two counts of theft under $500.
Vernon said two truck loads of stolen items were taken from the scene and officers in both counties were still linking stolen items to their owners Tuesday.
“We got a break a few days ago when a resident of the Gray’s Camp community saw a person in a silver SUV stop near the boat dock at Gray’s Camp about 3:30 a.m. and go and get an outboard gas tank,” he said. “The person wrote down the license plate number, so we knew who we were looking for. When we got to the residence on Magnolia Harbor Loop, there was the silver SUV and some gas cans in the yard and everything began to fall in place.”
Vernon said Garrett initially hid in the house and would not come out. He said Ms. Griffin came out first.
“Obion County has solved at least five burglaries through these arrests,” he added.
Vehicles of hunters and fishermen who are on the lake have been burglarized for the last several weeks. Vernon said in at least one vehicle, a window was smashed to gain access.
A third subject, Robert Lee Walley, 30, was at the residence when officers arrived but they initially had no reason to detain him and he left. Officers later found 3.2 grams of meth on the ground and Lake County filed charges against him for possession of meth.
He was arrested Monday night in Obion County near Ira Barker Road.
Ms. Griffin was free on $1,500 bond.
Sportsman’s Resort South had a security video showing a man driving a silver SUV who took an outboard gas tank during daylight hours with guests watching.
Garrett’s charges also include a restraining order for both Gray’s Camp and Sportsman’s Resort.
A preliminary hearing is set for Garrett in Lake County on Thursday and Ms. Griffin has an appearance the same day.
Walley is currently being held in the Obion County Law Enforcement Complex.
Editor’s note: Evan Jones is editor of The Lake County Banner in Tiptonville.
Published in The Messenger 12.12.12