Thanks to the vigilance of Virginia Highland residents, an accused burglar is now behind bars.
Charles Echols, 54, is in the Fulton County Jail on 14 charges related to burglary, according to the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office website.
“We believe he is responsible for 13 burglaries in Morningside, Midtown, Virginia Highland, North Highland, Amsterdam and Monroe,” said Carlos Campos of the Atlanta Police Department.
Last week, police asked people to be on the lookout for Echols. He was wanted for suspected parole violation in connection with burglary. As the word spread on a Yahoo Group message board, VHlist, neighbors started reporting sightings of Echols.
According to a safety report compiled by John Wolfinger, coordinator of the VaHi neighborhood watch, things started picking up just before 5 p.m. on Aug. 22. The Arlington Place Street Captain posted a message that she had just seen Echols on her street and had called 911 with a physical description, including his clothing.
Then just after 7 p.m., Atlanta Police sent a message that they had tracked down Echols and arrested him, according to Wolfinger’s report, which is given to Atlanta Police.
“This day was a great example of community participation with APD and could not have happened without our electronic message boards and a lot of alert and aware citizens,” Wolfinger said in his report.
Wolfinger also included a statement from an Atlanta Police detective, who said, “When he was arrested, he had a laptop, jewelry and other small items in his possession. I interviewed him and he told me about two burglaries he had just committed ...These two homes are where the items he had on him came from. He agreed to point out other houses he had broken into - which we did on Thursday. There were about 8 houses he identified in Morningside. He did cut his hand during a break-in, but he could not remember where. Luckily, we have his DNA on file.”
Police say they are trying to recover as much property as possible and want to “have a viewing somewhere in the neighborhood so people can come and identify their property,” according to Wolfinger’s report.