JEFFERSONVILLE — A suspect is in custody in connection with a string of overnight burglaries to downtown Jeffersonville businesses earlier this week.
Randall L. Bracey, 45, of Clarksville, was arrested Thursday night in Louisville on warrants filed earlier in the day in Clark County on the alleged break-ins or attempted break-ins at five local businesses in a several block radius, which had occurred during the early morning hours through just after daylight Wednesday. He faces preliminary charges of three level 5 felonies for burglary and three level 6 felonies for theft.
Police say a search warrant executed at a Clarksville residence after the arrest has turned up items related to the burglaries.
Included in the list of businesses are the Alcove, in the 200 block of Spring Street; Spring Street Tattoos, in the 300 block of Spring; E.M. Coots' Sons Funeral Home, in the 100 block of West Maple Street; Parlour Pizza, in the 100 block of West Chestnut Street; and the Pearl Street Taphouse, in the 400 block of Pearl Street.
"I was very pleased that the individual that ... so brazenly committed this level of felonies was incarcerated so rapidly," Jeffersonville Police Lt. Isaac Parker said Thursday night. "The Jeffersonville Police Department is dedicated to the safety and security of all our residents, businesses and the patrons of those businesses.
"We do appreciate the partnership with the businesses in Jeffersonville and the cooperation with the investigation, as well as the citizens."
Police say a search warrant executed at a Clarksville residence after the arrest has turned up items related to the burglaries. Jeffersonville Police Detective Joshua Schiller said in an email Thursday afternoon that the incidents are rare and police will remain vigilant.
"These types of incidents involving businesses in the downtown area are rare and uncommon," Schiller said in an email. "The Jeffersonville Police is taking the appropriate measures to ensure the safety and security of not only the businesses involved, but all of the businesses in the downtown area and their patrons.
Teri Taylor and Kelly Conn, co-owners of Pearl Street Taphouse, are among those Bracey allegedly hit. They said they had been asleep Wednesday when they got a call from their alarm company around 4 a.m. They were at the business in less than five minutes.
Taylor said they saw a man outside who told them their alarm was going off and who then continued walking down the street. The owners said Thursday afternoon they believed the man they saw outside was the same one to have just broken in.
Taylor and Conn said once they got inside, they thought at first no one had been in the building. But they soon discovered someone had gained access through a window, though leaving before taking anything.
"Violated," is how Conn said he feels about what happened, and that any robbery can be a big hit to small, local businesses. "We and the other business owners have worked very hard to revitalize downtown Jeffersonville into something nice," he said.
Taylor said they've already bolstered their security equipment. Also, she said the string of crime is bringing the downtown business owners closer.
"I think we're definitely going to look out for each other more," she said. "It really makes me care about them more."
A representative from Coots' said a person had attempted breaking into the funeral home without success.
Chris Palmer, who co-owns the Alcove with Dan Mahony, said he'd gone in around 10:30 Wednesday morning and realized someone had broken in through a back window. He soon found their safe, valued at around $300, and $900 in cash had been taken.
But they were just as surprised as what was left — the suspect had also taken six Falls City beers and a bottle of cranberry juice from the bar, but left the rest of the business untouched, including liquor stock.
"I'm not entirely sure what his motivation was," Palmer said Thursday afternoon before the suspect was arrested. "It's unfortunate, but was the best case scenario for us, in all honesty. He could have come through and smashed a bunch of our product; we could have had deposits in the safe."
Mahony called the robberies "a pretty brazen thing," especially given that some occurred after the sun was up Wednesday.
"If I had to call it, it seems like drug behavior, breaking into shops and stealing cash drawers," Mahony said. "And the fact that they hit a spree at this time of day, it seems desperate."
Both men have worked in the area for several years, either as owners or employees of other local businesses, and say this is the last place they'd expect for such a thing to happen. They say they won't let the incident drag them down.
"I've never felt unsafe [here]," Palmer said. "And to be fair, I'm not sure that I do now. But it's something we won't let happen again."
"What happened was a shame but there are bad actors everywhere," Mahony said. "It hasn't dampened our enthusiasm."
Bracey also had an outstanding warrant from Floyd County, filed April 11 on charges of a level 5 felony for battery with a deadly weapon and a level 6 felony for criminal recklessness with a deadly weapon.
According to court records regarding that case, on March 28, Bracey went into a New Albany gas station, walked out without paying for a pack of cigarettes and when confronted, put a knife to the clerk's neck and "swung" the knife at him. The clerk sustained a minor neck laceration, records show.
This investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information in this or any case is asked to contact the Jeffersonville Police Department at 812-283-6633 or 812-282-TIPS.