By JOSH NEWTON
Authorities have arrested a Tahlequah man they believe is responsible for multiple car burglaries and the resulting theft of victims’ purses.
Charles W. Baldwin, 34, is being held at the Cherokee County Detention Center with a $10,000 bond for burglary of a vehicle, knowingly concealing stolen property, fraudulent use of a credit card, and malicious injury to a vehicle. Baldwin’s arrest was the result of a probe by the Tahlequah Police Department – particularly the night-shift crew, which has been searching for the suspect for at least a week, Police Chief Nate King said.
“We believe he would break into a car, steal a purse, go straight to Walmart and buy, buy, buy,” said King.
Baldwin would allegedly sell most of what he purchased, then take the cash to a local casino. King said only a small amount of property stolen during the car burglaries was recovered.
According to an affidavit filed by Tahlequah Officer Pam Bell, she was sent to take a report on one of the vehicle burglaries and learned a purse had been stolen from the truck. The victim’s Arvest bank card, Walmart credit card, and Visa credit card were in the purse, and a check of activity on the cards showed they had been used at a local convenience store and at Walmart in Tahlequah.
While Bell was taking a report on that burglary, another victim approached her and said the window on his Dodge Charger had been vandalized.
The suspect had used some sort of object to strike the window four times, but the window’s tint kept the glass from shattering. Bell said she noticed there was a purse inside the Dodge when the suspect tried to break the window.
Police believe most of the alleged car burglaries took place at businesses near the intersection of Muskogee Avenue and the bypass.
Tahlequah Sgt. Robert Jones was able to obtain surveillance footage allegedly showing Baldwin as he used a victim’s credit card at Walmart. Baldwin was later located at the Cherokee Casino and taken into custody by Cherokee Nation Marshal Ralph Travis, Robert Jones, and Tahlequah Police Capt. Tom Jones.
According to King, Baldwin has a “very lengthy criminal history out of Tennessee.”
Victims of the car burglaries were urged to contact Detective Chris Boals at (918) 456-8801 to see whether any of their stolen property was recovered as a result of Baldwin’s arrest.