Suspect given ‘get out of jail free card’ breaks into home two days later, police say

VIDEO: Suspect given ‘get out of jail free card’ breaks into home two days later, police say

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - North Charleston police say a convicted criminal broke into a car, was able to get out of jail without paying bond, and then broke into a home two days later.

The suspect, 20-year-old Caleb Howard, is back in jail on a $25,000 bond on a charge of second-degree burglary.

Police say last Thursday Howard broke into a car at the Firestone auto repair shop on Northwoods Boulevard.

He was quickly arrested. Howard told officers he went inside the car to steal items he could sell for food, according to the incident report.

Later that day, magistrate John Kenney gave Howard a personal recognizance bond. A personal recognizance bond is sometimes referred to as a “get of jail free card” because it does not require the defendant to pay any money to get out of jail.

“Two days later, after he gets a PR bond for breaking into a vehicle he stepped it up and now he’s breaking into a home,” North Charleston Deputy Chief Greg Gomes said.

Police say Howard went to Hawthorne City Mobile Home Park and broke the glass door of the home there while people were inside.

Cops say he confessed.

“You got two kids that were presumably in that house that are gonna have to live with the trauma of that,” Gomes said.

Howard’s rap sheet includes a burglary conviction in August 2017. He was given a suspended sentence with probation. In December of that year, he was sent to prison for violating his probation.

Magistrate John Kenney, when asked why he gave Howard a get out of jail free card knowing his criminal history, said he’s not allowed to comment on his decisions.

Gomes says all his officers can do is to continue doing their jobs.

“I know our role is to enforce the laws and go out and protect our community," Gomes said. “I think we have a track record of doing that. But these sort of cases are frustrating to law enforcement, but more importantly it’s frustrating to our victims.”

A different judge set the $25,000 bond for Howard on the burglary charge on Sunday.

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