FAIRMONT - A 44-year-old Fairmont man - Anthony Brian McAllister - faces second- and third-degree burglary charges, along with a felony count of first-degree criminal damage to property, after allegedly breaking into and entering two stores at Five Lakes Center during overnight Wednesday.
According to information from the Fairmont Police Department:
Around 1 a.m. Wednesday, police responded to a motion alarm triggered in the gun area at Dunhams Sporting Goods store at the mall.
When police were able to enter the store, the suspect had already fled. The gate between the store and the mall building had been damaged and there was a hole in it big enough for a person to get through.
Police noticed that a window at the True Value hardware store at Five Lakes Centre also had been broken.
Surveillance video for both stores was examined. The Dunhams footage showed a man attempting to open the gate unsuccessfully, and later coming back with an axe and damaging the gate enough to gain entry. The suspect then made his way to the gun department of the store when the motion alarms were set off. The man attempted to deactivate the alarm, but then exited through the damaged gate.
True Value surveillance video shows the man used a tire iron to break the glass door and enter, then exit with an axe. The axe was recovered in the Dunhams store.
Shortly after 9 a.m., police received a report from someone who said a roommate of theirs - McAllister - might have been responsible for a burglary at Five Lakes Centre. The person told police she heard McAllister talking about breaking into the mall and using an axe to do it. She said McAllister had returned to the residence around 1:30 a.m.. He had cuts on his hand and said he broke a window and smashed stuff with an axe.
Shortly after police received this information, an officer who had responded to the burglary saw McAllister on the street and recognized him from the surveillance video. The officer confirmed the man was McAllister and placed him under arrest. It was noted there were cuts on McAllister's hands. When McAllister was asked about the break-in, he said he didn't get anything.
Damage to the Dunhams property was in excess of $1,000.
Fairmont Police Chief Greg Brolsma said digital surveillance, along with a citizen calling in the information, helped in the quick solving of the case.
"More places of business have digital video and it really helps out because we can zoom in and see those details," he said. "We're also pleased how it turned out this citizen called in this tip at 9:10, and we had the perpetrator in custody by 9:18. It's good to say that a crime that happened at 1 a.m. and we had made an arrest by 9:30."
McAllister is charged with second-degree burglary; maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine; third-degree burglary and first-degree criminal damage to property, both with a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
McAllister also faces a misdemeanor theft charge.