Tahlequah Daily Press

March 17, 2014

Burglary ring unraveled

More stolen property recovered Friday

By JOSH NEWTON
Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — Cherokee County sheriff’s investigators continue to unravel a multicounty burglary ring that targeted dozens of victims, including rural schools and churches – and the losses keep adding up.

As of Friday, investigators estimate 21-year-old Okay residents Dylan L. Compton and Robert R. Ford had taken more than $200,000 worth of property from Cherokee County residents, schools and churches.

Compton and Ford are jailed in Sequoyah County without bond after their arrest last week, when they were allegedly caught stealing several air conditioners from Marble City School.

So far, Compton and Ford are blamed for a string of thefts in Cherokee, Muskogee, Adair, Sequoyah and McIntosh counties.

“We appreciate the assistance of other agencies,” said Cherokee County Undersheriff Jason Chennault. “A lot of stolen property has been recovered, and we are still trying to determine whether there are other victims and where some of the stolen property might be located.”

Cherokee County Sheriff’s Investigator James Brown said local authorities were actually working on a stolen-gun case that pointed to Compton before he and Ford were arrested.

Employees at a Muskogee pawn shop said a man with the last name of Compton had sold them some firearms, which were stolen out of Cherokee County.

As that case was being investigated, authorities from Okay asked for information from Cherokee County investigators when a school in that town was burglarized. During the conversation, Compton’s name was mentioned as a suspect in thefts out of McIntosh County, where Compton had apparently dropped his cell phone and left it behind during one theft.

When sheriff’s investigators traveled to Muskogee last week to look for stolen firearms, they discovered Compton and Ford had also pawned some guitars that had been stolen from Cherokee County churches recently.

That same day, Compton and Ford were nabbed in Sequoyah County.

Sheriff’s investigators traveled to Compton’s home in Okay and found a stolen trailer.

Inside the home, authorities found a stolen gun, as well as a guitar and an amp that had been taken from Parris Church in Cherokee County. According to Brown, a 1968 Gibson guitar worth thousands of dollars had been destroyed by Compton, who thought the instrument to be worthless.

A day later, investigators traveled to Sequoyah County and interviewed Compton and Ford. The duo allegedly confessed to being involved in multiple trailer thefts and a series of air conditioner thefts in Cherokee County and elsewhere.

Investigators allege Compton and Ford randomly chose targets while driving around in the middle of the night. Many of the items they took were later sold to individuals or pawn shops.

Air conditioners were stripped down and sold as scrap in Muskogee.

“So far we believe can tie them to at least 20 air conditioner thefts from Cherokee County,” Brown said Friday. “We’re stilling pulling reports and trying to see if there are links to other reports we’ve received.”

Investigators later learned a cache of stolen property was inside a storage building at Compton’s Okay home – a storage building that had been taken from property near Jarvis and Jones Road in Tahlequah.

Cherokee County Sheriff’s Sgt. Casey Baker said authorities hope to locate the owners of many other items recovered in Okay and now stored in Cherokee County.

“And if anybody has bought anything from these two, contact the sheriff’s office at (918) 456-2583,” Baker said.

Investigators say Compton and Ford have been helpful during interviews, but have shown “no remorse” for the burglaries.

jnewton@tahlequahdailypress.com