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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, July 16, 2017 1:00 am

Vehicle break-ins focus of theft ring

JAMIE DUFFY | The Journal Gazette

Five people have been named as part of a crime ring responsible for breaking into cars for money, credit cards and other loot.

An arrest warrant was issued Friday for four of the five. One person, identified as the ringleader, has not yet been charged, according to court documents.

According to court documents, a group of three men – Christopher Todd Walker; Jason Logan, 35, of no known address; and Erick Cocks, 46, of the 4400 block of South Colonial Avenue –were the principal members of the ring and went on regular trips to steal from cars, according to Leah Halbrook, 26, another member of the ring, who said she is married to Cocks.

Fort Wayne police began investigating June 1 using surveillance video, business records, and interviews with witnesses and suspects. The break-ins took place over the past several months and usually involved vehicles parked on the street or in business parking lots. Car windows were broken out, and stolen credit or debit cards were used shortly after the break-ins at local retail or convenience stores, court documents said.

Halbrook said that after the stolen booty was divvied up, the group would often go “straight to a drug dealer's house and trade the stolen items for drugs,” court documents said. She also said that Walker was the ringleader and that he usually took half and distributed the rest.

The group focused on cash, credit and debit cards and personal items. In one instance, on April 27, the theft of a saxophone was traced to Logan, who pawned it for $125 at the Indiana Loan Company on North Clinton Street, court documents said.

Logan was also traced to the theft of an iPad by his fingerprints. Fingerprints from another car were identified as Walker's. On May 26, a woman left her purse with a checkbook, cash, and credit and debit cards in her car, court documents said.

Another victim left her car unlocked at the zoo on May 30. When she returned, her Smith & Wesson pistol was gone along with her bank cards. Later, she said her card had been used at Shoe Carnival, at a Pizza Hut and at Walmart where more than $500 was charged on her cards.

Surveillance video tied a black 2009 Dodge Durango to the theft. Surveillance video at the Walmart where the stolen cards were used recorded Logan and Melissa Wormbly, 36, of the 1400 block of Oakland Street, get out and walk into the store.

Logan was charged Friday on five charges of fraud, one count of corrupt business influence, two misdemeanor charges for theft and one misdemeanor charge for criminal mischief.

Cocks was charged Friday with one count of corrupt business influence and Halbrook was charged the same day with a misdemeanor for conversion. Wormbly was charged Friday with one count for fraud.

All four are wanted on arrest warrants, according to court documents.

Walker, who has not yet been charged, was the “principal organizer and decision maker of the enterprise,” court documents said.

“Following the vehicle break-ins, Christopher (T. Walker) would provide cash, credit/debit cards to the rest of the enterprise to make purchases, fill up gas tanks on the vehicles and would keep half of the items purchased and give the rest back to the enterprise as payment.”

jduffy@jg.net