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Suspects locked up after auto burglary spree in Clinton

By Randy Bell

For almost five months, this year’s auto burglary rate in Clinton was looking good—only seventeen crimes reported. Then, in a week’s time, the City saw a 158 percent increase. And Police Chief Ford Hayman said it was the work of two young Jackson men, who were caught on their third foray into Clinton.

Hayman said after the first cars were broken into May 27, the police department developed a plan to catch the thieves.

“Two nights later, we almost had them,” the chief told the Board of Aldermen June 6. “They slipped out of our grasp. And we updated our plan and put a bunch of officers out on the streets, so we could catch them the third time they came back into our City [on June 2].” “We knew they would come back, and we were ready for them.”

Mandarin Jackson faces twenty-seven counts of auto burglary, possession of a stolen firearm, and possession of a controlled substance. His bond was set at almost $1.4 million. Justin Rawls was charged initially with eleven counts of auto burglary and as a convicted felon illegally possessing a weapon. Rawls’ bond was set at $600,000.

There was a common theme to the twenty-seven auto burglaries.

“Every one of the cars was unlocked,” Hayman said, And the thieves were selective in what they took. “Guns, cash, and electronics. Anything else, they left it alone.”

Police often remind citizens that leaving valuables in an unlocked vehicle is a mistake, even in a safe city like Clinton.

“I think people get complacent,” Hayman said. “And that’s understandable. But we’ve asked them numerous times: please help us out.”

The chief said the break-ins took place in residential areas across Clinton.

“All over town,” he said. “It stretched from one end to the other.”

The City had been averaging fewer than four auto burglaries a month before that one-week crime spree, and it was on pace to perhaps finish the year lower than 2022, when Clinton reported a total of forty-three vehicles broken into.

That number spiked last summer when three groups of thieves—mostly from outside the city – committed about two dozen auto burglaries before they were caught. But even if there’s not another car broken into in Clinton this year, the total so far—forty-four—is already higher than last year.

Hayman said, “It just seems like we can’t get out of the pattern of catching that one bad rash of burglaries.”

The Clinton crime statistics snapshot that the chief gave to the Board on June 6 also included these numbers for the year so far: one murder, two carjackings, one strongarm robbery, no armed robberies, five residential burglaries, two business burglaries, and nine grand larcenies.

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