COVINGTON — An arrest by a rookie Covington Police officer and good investigative work by a detective led to a Covington man being charged in connection with a rash of business break-ins over the last two weeks.

Eight businesses along U.S. Highway 278 or nearby streets were burglarized between June 23 and July 8. Items taken range between cash to clothing items to cigars and alcohol.

Surveillance video at several of the locations showed a male between 5-foot-8-inches and 5-foot-11-inches tall wearing a black hoodie and black skinny sweatpants with white stripes down the side, grey tennis shoes, light-colored gloves, and a white mask breaking into the locations.

Capt. Ken Malcom, head of the Covington PD’s Criminal Investigations Division, said investigators also believed the burglar was riding a bike.

“We believed he was possibly using a bicycle to get around to the various locations because they were in such close proximity to each other,” Malcom said. “We knew he was likely traveling on secondary roads (along Hwy. 278) to get to these locations.”

On July 10, the police got a break in the case when rookie Officer Christian Jimenez spotted a male who matched the description.

“Officer Jimenez was out patrolling and saw a suspicious person that matched the description of our suspect with a bicycle,” said Malcom. “As he approached him, the man threw the bike into the woods.”

The suspect, identified as Christopher Demond Lee, 20, of Covington, was subsequently arrested and charged with loitering and prowling.

“Later that afternoon, Detective Travis Pierce was out canvassing the area where we thought the burglary suspect may have traveled,” Malcom continued. “Pierce found one of the cash drawers from the burglary at the Hardee’s Restaurant. He found it on the little cut through area of Marie Street that cuts between Emory Street and Pace Street.

“He also saw that one of the neighboring businesses in that area had a surveillance camera that pointed down in that general direction. We viewed the video from the night of the Hardee’s burglary and we were able to see a person on a bicycle who got off the bike, puts clothes on that match the clothes worn in four of the eight burglaries. He had on shorts, but put on long pants that matched what was used in each of the burglaries.

“We were able to see him unmasked and were able to identify him as the suspect who had been arrested by Officer Jimenez. He was also on the same bicycle that had been seen in the video, (which turned out to be a stolen bicycle).”

Lee now has four additional burglary charges for the break-ins at Hardee’s on July 8, Dollar General on July 6, Applebee’s on June 29, and Covington Package Store on June 25. Lee could also face charges for the burglaries of Butcher Block Deli on July 6, Church’s Chicken on July 4, Cititrends on June 26, and Covington Auto Sales on June 23.

Malcom said the investigation is continuing as there may possibly be a second suspect.

“We do believe he had someone else with him on at least one, possibly two other cases,” said Malcom, “so our investigation is continuing and there is the possibility of additional arrests.”

Senior Reporter

Born and raised in Decatur, Ga. Graduated from Shorter College in Rome, Ga. in 1979 with B.A. in Communications. Worked in community newspapers for 26 years. Started at Rockdale Citizen/Newton Citizen in January 2016.