By Jeremy Pittari, Item Staff Writer
The Picayune Item
A man who made friends with people at a local church allegedly burglarized their homes while they attended Sunday morning services.
The suspect of the residential burglaries has been identified as 37-year-old Chad E. Cruz, of 506 Caesar Rd., and he has been charged with two counts of residential burglary and one count of grand larceny, said Maj. Donnie Saucier with the Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department.
Investigation into the case began after the department received reports of two residential burglaries in the Carriere and Sycamore Road areas over the past month, Saucier said. He said Detective Scott Wagner was assigned the case and through his investigation determined similarities in the two burglaries. Saucier said those similarities included matches in the types of items stolen in the crimes, mostly jewelry, and the method of entry.
Investigation at Pearl River County and neighboring St. Tammany Parish, La., pawn shops showed the stolen jewelry apparently had been sold by Cruz to a scrap gold business in St. Tammany Parish, Saucier said. Also, an industrial paint sprayer was sold by Cruz to a pawn shop in the neighboring parish, Saucier said. The paint sprayer allegedly had been stolen from one of Cruz’ former employers, Saucier said. The theft of the paint sprayer led to the grand larceny charge, Saucier said.
Once Cruz was determined to be a suspect, investigators learned that Cruz had established friendships with the victims of the residential burglaries through a local church, Saucier said. The investigation showed that Cruz apparently would wait until he knew the victims were attending church on Sundays before breaking into the their homes and taking the jewelry, Saucier said.
Cruz is being held in the Pearl River County jail on a $14,000 cash bond, Saucier said.