AIKEN -- A burglar caught after an intensive stakeout by Aiken police received a 20-year jail sentence Wednesday for a rash of commercial break-ins.
Tracey Lamar Carter, 26, was arrested Sept. 3 and later confessed to breaking into several businesses in east Aiken. He told police he was addicted to crack cocaine and needed money.
Tired of the burglaries, officers with the Aiken Department of Public Safety put as many as a dozen officers around area businesses, Chief Pete Frommer said.
"It's some long, boring hours -- sitting in the bushes half the night," Chief Frommer said. "But to do a good stakeout, you can't sit in an unmarked police car. You have to get out there."
During the stakeouts, police kept seeing Mr. Carter wandering around the area. He was known to police because he was released in March after serving a five-year jail sentence for other burglaries. Investigators compared his fingerprints to those collected at break-ins, and they matched.
Mr. Carter later confessed to breaking into several businesses, including Easy Wash and Family Bowl on Park Avenue, Security Finance on York Street and The Golden Comb on Kershaw Street.
In court, Assistant Solicitor Strom Thurmond Jr. told Circuit Judge Marc Westbrook that the victims were consulted before a plea bargain was accepted. Mr. Carter pleaded guilty to four counts of second-degree burglary.
Deputy Public Defender Wallis Alves told the judge her client abided by his probation obligations for six months after his release from prison in March. He worked three jobs, returned to his family's home every night and stayed out of trouble.
In August, though, he got caught up in drugs again and started the burglaries to support his habit, Ms. Alves said.
Judge Westbrook sentenced Mr. Carter to 20 years in prison. He will be eligible for parole in 11 years and must serve an additional five years probation and pay $2,000 in restitution once he is released.
Chief Frommer credited the arrest to officers' willingness to work together. He said drugs continue to be the leading factor for area crime, especially car thefts, shoplifting and burglaries.
Reach Greg Rickabaugh at (803) 279-6895.