Authorities building case in multi-county pet shelter break-ins



Authorities in up to 17 counties are hoping to build a criminal enterprise case against two Morrow County men who are suspected in a rash of break-ins at animal shelters since the start of the year.

James Blankenship, 29, is being held in the Morrow County Jail and Corby Creech, 36, has also been charged in connection with a break-in at the Morrow County Humane Society, the Associated Press reported this week.

The two men, however, are the main suspects at a total of 17 break-ins at pet shelters from Jan. 9 through late February including a Jan. 20 break-in at Logan County’s Top of Ohio Pet Shelter.

Logan County Prosecutor William T. Goslee and Logan County Sheriff’s Detective Tom Watson are working with authorities in other counties to assemble evidence that will show the two men were engaged in a criminal enterprise that crossed county lines.

A criminal enterprise charge could allow the case to be prosecuted in one location, saving taxpayers money, Mr. Goslee said.

One of the two men was arrested in early March after a Kenton Police officer recorded details and the license number of a suspicious vehicle seen in the area of the Hardin County Dog Shelter days before a Feb. 18 break-in at the shelter.

A search of a Mt. Gilead home turned up a puppy that was taken during the Hardin County break-in.

While evidence is strong in some cases and weaker in others, the body of evidence linking the 17 break-ins is very good, Mr. Goslee said.

Cell phone data can be used to show the two men’s respective cellular devices approaching many of the shelters in the minutes leading up to the reported break-ins. A pair of gloves and boots were seized that match items the thieves are seen wearing in surveillance videos, including the video from the Logan County shelter where they made off with $1,335.


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Related story: UPDATE: Sheriff: At least one in custody for shelter break-ins