LAKE WATEREE — The Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office recently recovered over $70,000 worth of stolen property when they executed a search warrant of 37-year-old Eric Lee Matthews’ residence at 2800 Longtown Road.
On July 30, deputies with the Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office conducted a search at Matthews’ home. During the search, numerous items were recovered linking Matthews to several cases pending back to May 2014.
During the past three months, Fairfield County residents had been experiencing a number of thefts and burglaries in Ridgeway, Longtown and Lake Wateree.
According to a written statement from the sheriff’s office, investigators believed many of those incidents were committed by the same person(s). In late July, FCSO investigators were able to develop Matthews as a suspect after investigators tracked some of the stolen items through a pawn shop purchase.
Chief Deputy Keith Lewis said he was pleased with the departments diligence in uncovering the culprit of so many thefts.
“We have been able to recover over $70,000 worth of stolen property. This is still an active investigation and we expect to be able to link Mr. Matthews to other incidents in Fairfield County, as well as possibly in Richland County,” Lewis said. “I’d like to recognize our deputies, especially our criminal investigators. They did a great job of staying with these cases when it seemed that all leads had been exhausted. I can’t say enough for how hard they work, not only on these cases, but on all of them. We’re a lucky community to have such dedicated professionals.”
Police also seized a small quantity of heroin and found an elaborate marijuana grow room inside the residence.
Although there was no marijuana in the room, investigators found evidence there had been marijuana there.
“It was an elaborately hidden room with a grow light,” Capt. Brad Douglas said. “It was something we don’t see every day as far as a well hidden room with electricity going to it and a commercial grow light.”
The heroin belonged to Matthews’ brother, Larry K. Matthews Jr., 27, also of Longtown Road. The younger Matthews was charged with possession with intent to distribute heroin.
Through this investigation, investigators were able to track down and locate more stolen property at locations in Richland County. Although this is a continuing investigation, so far deputies have linked Matthews to at least 14 criminal incidents.
Matthews will face approximately 15 charges consisting of petit larceny, grand larceny and burglary.
Sources at the Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office said that the majority of the items were outside or in sheds, but Matthews did use forced entry in some cases. Stolen items included a full size farm tractor, wave runner, box trailer and power tools.
“It’s nothing but good old fashioned police work,” Douglas said. “These investigators stayed with it longer than some investigators might have and they kept checking things and finally ended up tracking a few items to a pawn shop in Richland County.”