Man accused of smash-and grab burglaries
BY NICK WATSON
A Gainesville man is accused in a pair of smash-and grab burglaries over the weekend at local gas stations, police said.
Gainesville police officers first responded to a burglary report around 7:30 a.m. Sunday, April 12, to the Old Athens Highway Citgo, but police believe the burglary happened around 11:30 p.m. Saturday.
“Officers on scene gained access to surveillance footage depicting the suspect, identified as Anthony Thirkield, breaking the glass on the front door and prying the security bars apart,” Gainesville Police Chief Jay Parrish said in a news release. “Thirkield attempted to squeeze himself in between the security bars, but was unable to make full entry into the business.”
After circling the business, police said, Thirkield left the gas station.
Police found the front door of 129 Package Store/Valero on Old Athens Highway broken while patrolling the area.
After contacting the owner and checking surveillance footage, officers determined a suspect entered the gas station multiple times between 11 p.m. Saturday and 4:30 a.m. Sunday.
“In speaking with Valero management, it was determined the suspect stole an undisclosed amount of cash, cigarettes, lighters and lottery tickets. Based on Valero surveillance footage, it was confirmed the suspect matched the description of the suspect from Citgo,” according to Gainesville Police.
Officers circulated a photo of Thirkield among themselves, and Thirkield was found around 8:30 a.m. Sunday in the area of Athens Street and Athens Highway.
Items stolen from the Valero and a synthetic cannabinoid were found in Thirkield’s possession, police said.
Thirkield, 32, was charged with two counts of smash-and-grab burglary, second-degree criminal damage to property, possession of a synthetic cannabinoid and bringing contraband across the guard line.
He was booked into the Hall County Jail, where he remains.
“Mr. Thirkield maintains his innocence regarding these alleged burglaries. We do not believe the person in the burglary is Mr. Thirkield,” defense attorney Brett Willis wrote in an email. “It’s unclear what ‘items’ the police are claiming they recovered from Mr. Thirlkield that allegedly ties him to these burglaries. And, we look forward to an opportunity to clear his name, whenever that eventuality may occur owing to current circumstances.”