BY TOM YANCEY
Greeneville police arrested a man Thursday and charged him with breaking into the Game Stop video game store Jan. 4 by tunneling through a wall after breaking into a vacant adjacent space.
Detective Pat Hankins charged Steven Paul Archer, 33, of 200 Crest Hill Lane, Chuckey, with felony burglary in the offense. According to the warrant, Archer took $288.55 in cash and $5,342 in merchandise from the store.
In the early morning hours of Jan. 4, the warrant said, Archer "forcibly removed the metal back door to an adjacent vacant rental space," then cut a hole in the sheet rock wall to gain access to the video game business at 3793 E. Andrew Johnson Highway.
The business is in a strip shopping center just east of Walmart.
Store video surveillance cameras showed a man wearing a ski mask inside the store for a short time after apparently tunneling through a wall.
Hankins said this morning that he reviewed the store video and also reviewed video from Walmart that showed Archer "doing surveillance at the Game Stop."
The detective said the Walmart video showed Archer in an "unusual vehicle," a GMC "Jimmy" SUV painted "passion purple," a color he determined was only used for two years.
The SUV also had decals that made it easier to identify, Hankins said.
After reviewing the videos at Walmart on Jan. 5, Hankins said, "As luck would have it," as the detective was pulling out of Walmart, "there sat the vehicle," across the Bypass. Hankins said he was able to identify the vehicle and "made a stop" to interview the driver.
Hankins said he let the driver go at that point, but used evidence gathered during the interview, along with videos and physical evidence, to make the arrest.
Archer was freed after posting $10,000 bond, but was to appear this morning in General Sessions Court. Hankins said additional charges are pending.
DETAILS OF BREAK-IN
Officer Bucky Craft had reported answering an alarm at 1:52 a.m. on Jan. 4 and finding that a rear door to an adjacent store had been pried open with a tool.
Pictures that accompanied the report showed the door hinges pried loose.
Officer Craft said the burglar made several unsuccessful attempts to get through the wall into the game store, but one attempt created a hole near the floor that was large enough to crawl through.
Tools were left behind at the scene, including two flathead screwdrivers, a sheet-rock saw and a pair of channel-lock pliers.
Among the items taken were a Wii Fit console, a Wii system, a X-Box 360 and two Playstation game systems, along with a box of games.
All of the items were new and still in boxes.
The report of the incident said store managers provided video that showed a white male wearing gloves, a ski mask and a large coat inside the store.
Videos showed the man as he crawled through a large hole he had made in the wall, according to the report.
Det. Lt. Stewart Kilgore said the store was equipped with an alarm system, but Greeneville police were not notified by the alarm company until about 10 minutes after entry was made.
Kilgore said the GPD officer's response time after notification was about one minute.