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A.C. thieves caught- escaped- then caught again

Officials with Shiloh Elementary School have had quite enough. Over the past few weeks, they have filed three reports of theft or damage caused to air conditioners.

It appears now, their reports — and increased patrols by Dallas County Sheriff’s Department personnel — have led to multiple arrests.

Before 4 a.m. Thursday, while patrolling near the school, Deputy Fred Coleman spotted two suspicious individuals near the school. It turns out, those two individuals suspects tied to multiple air conditioning thefts and destruction in the Sardis area.

According to Investigator Janet Cole, with the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department, Coleman, along with Sgt. Mose Suttles, made contact with the two individuals who then fled in opposite directions.

“They were able to take one of the suspects into custody,” Cole said. “After interviewing him, we learned the name of the other suspect and were able to take him into custody as well.”

During the interviewing of both suspects, Cole said both admitted to a string of thefts and destruction including area churches and schools.

Porter Belcher

Porter Belcher, 27, of Sardis, was the suspect taken into custody first. He has been charged with 14 counts of theft of property first and 14 counts of criminal mischief first. He has also been charged with possession of burglary tools.

The second suspect is Matthew Boley, 24, of Selma, who has been charged with 18 counts of theft of property first and criminal mischief first. Boley has also been charged with theft of burglary tools.

Cole said their arrests did not mark the end of the excitement Thursday.

In the process of being moved to the Dallas County Jail, Boley was able to break loose from custody at the Dallas County Jail and lead local law enforcement on a 45-minute manhunt around much of downtown Selma.

Matthew Boley

He was later captured roughly two blocks away from the courthouse on Arsenal Place.

Because of his run through downtown, an escape charge was added to Boley’s list of charges.

Both are currently being held in the Dallas County Jail. Belcher is being held on a $645,000 bond while Boley’s bond has been set at $840,000.

“I sure want to commend the deputies who caught these guys. I am sure the school would have suffered more damage if it weren’t for the actions of these deputies,” Cole said, adding the two have admitted to selling the materials from the air conditions to a local recycling yard — a yard she declined to name. “They’re making a killing off of this. The stuff they are getting from these air conditioners, they’re getting $200 to $300; just for one. Think about how much money they’ve got from destroying 18, or 19, or 20 air conditions. That’s a lot of money.”

Some of the other places the two reportedly admitted to hitting in recent months included Shiloh Baptist Church, Union United Methodist Church, Mt. Olive No. 2 and others.

“To break-in to a house is bad enough, but to do this to churches or schools; school where these kids are trying to learn and are likely going to suffer because they do not have air conditioning,” Cole said. “And to steal from a church, that is just pathetic.”