ST. GEORGE, SC (WCSC) - St. George police say they caught a man in the act of stealing copper from a Days Inn off I-95 on Thursday.
42-year-old James Shawn Howard is charged with 2nd degree burglary and possession of burglary tools. According to the St. George Police Department, Howard stole $2000 worth of copper and four Phillips TVs, starting Wednesday night.
When officers first responded to the scene around 10 p.m. Wednesday, they noticed a hotel room door was left open. Once inside room 126, the officers found a large amount of copper sitting on the bed and four TVs lined up along the wall, the incident report states.
As officers continued their investigation into the bathroom, they found a 4-foot hole in the wall next to the toilet. Once they looked inside the hall, they found a 5-foot-wide dirt hallway, and another 4-foot hole leading to the bathroom of room 112.
The report states that officers found dirt footprints leading to and from both of the holes. They also said that the beds in room 112 looked like someone had slept in them. A continued search showed that 8 rooms were left unlocked. Officers left the scene, but returned several hours later.
When they returned at 4 a.m., police said they saw Howard walking inside a "power room" and said he looked like he was avoiding them. When they went to the door and asked for him to come out, police said they heard several banging sounds but nothing else. Officers walked inside, arrested Howard, and searched his possessions, finding a plethora of tools. Police also said that Howard's boots matched the footprints found in the hotel room.
Howard is being held in the Dorchester County Detention Center.