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Authorities looking for additional burglary suspects - KOAM TV 7

Authorities looking for additional burglary suspects; reward increased to $7,000

Updated February 12 at 4:20 PM CST - News release issued by the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office:

Over the past weekend, several arrests were made on individuals suspected of committing burglaries and thefts in the area.

During the arrests Friday, on Skylar Duncan and Brittani Rufino, a search of the vehicle they had been driving led to the discovery of property identified as being stolen out of Labette County and Wilson County, Kansas.

On Saturday, Travis Roberts and Jenny Stephenson were arrested during an alleged burglary of a rural Cherokee County home. The motorcycle they were riding was found at the residence. However, it was also discovered that a white Ford Explorer was parked approximately a mile away from the crime scene, which the suspects are also suspected of using.

A search warrant was executed on that vehicle and additional stolen property, some stolen nearly two months ago in Cherokee County, was discovered along with suspected burglary tools.

The Cherokee County Sheriff's Office continues to investigate these individuals, as do neighboring law enforcement agencies.

And while the Sheriff's Office is not ruling out the possibility that some of these suspects may be involved in other recent thefts in Cherokee County, our investigation indicates that additional suspects are thought to be responsible for the recent string of burglaries.

Our primary investigative efforts are focused on those "at large" persons of interest.

However, the public's assistance is still needed.

We ask that residents continue to be alert and notify law enforcement of any suspicious activity in their neighborhoods.

We also ask that residents document or photograph their valuables, specifically jewelry, weapons and electronics.

Furthermore, the private reward being offered has increased to $7,000.00 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible for the string of residential burglaries in rural Cherokee County.

Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office at 620-429-3992 or email at crimetips@columbus-ks.com <mailto:crimetips@columbus-ks.com>.

Posted February 11 at 6:06 PM CST:  The Cherokee County, Kansas sheriff's office finds links between the high speed chase Friday and burglaries in Labette County.  But in the past month and a half there have been many other burglaries and thefts in Southeast Kansas and authorities are still searching for suspects and answers.

On January 26 Ben Hutto of Columbus got married.  That same day he says his house got broken into.

The items stolen include sentimental things like guns passed down through the family, a jacket that had his passport for the honeymoon in it and an iPad used for working on his families grain farm.

"My dad had a Remington 1100 12 gauge shotgun that his dad had given to him at 16 or 17 and that's gone, and my grandpa had just given me a handgun, my first handgun," says Hutto.

Since February 1 the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office has investigated five burglaries and three theft cases.

Sheriff David Groves says the amount of cases has increased since this time last year.

"During the month of January we saw the beginning of the increase of daytime residential burglaries, and we had 14 during the month of January," says Sheriff Groves.

Crawford County authorities have also seen several burglaries and thefts, including stolen guns knives and cattle.

"Possibly familiar with the victims - they are familiar with where those cattle are at, they know how to get six to seven cattle herded up on a trailer quickly, so we're not dealing with amateurs here," says Crawford County Sheriff Dan Peak.

"We arrested two suspects on Friday that were involved in a pursuit that stemmed from a theft case out of Labette County, and then Saturday morning we arrested two suspects that were found burglarizing a house just north of Columbus," says Sheriff Groves.  "Some of the items found in the Blazer that was in the pursuit on Friday afternoon may have contained property out of Wilson County."

While Hutto's items have not yet been recovered he says he hopes the police can find and stop those that are committing the crimes.

"There's just no way you could ever do that and anyone that is just out robbing us, it's much more than just money, you're stealing from us," says Hutto.

Cherokee County has a $6,000 reward for information leading to arrests.

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