5 are charged in delivery heists

Thanks to a couple of alert sheriff's deputies who spotted a stolen vehicle in a south Augusta mobile home park, the Richmond County Sheriff's Office arrested five teenagers in a spate of carjackings that targeted food delivery workers in Hephzibah within the past week.

Those arrested are:

- Willie Edward Hooper, 17, of Heartwood Drive; charged with kidnapping, robbery by force and theft by taking a motor vehicle.

- Karla Travis, 18, of Windsor Spring Road; charged with kidnapping, robbery by force and theft by taking a motor vehicle.

- A 16-year-old, of Windsor Spring Road; charged with kidnapping and robbery by force as a juvenile and theft by taking a motor vehicle, as a juvenile.

- A 15-year-old, of Bath Edie Road; charged with kidnapping and robbery by force as a juvenile and theft by taking a motor vehicle as a juvenile.

- A 16-year old, of Heartwood Drive; charged with kidnapping and robbery by force as a juvenile and theft by taking a motor vehicle as a juvenile.

"Our community is definitely safer with these five people where they belong," Richmond County sheriff's Lt. Scott Peebles said.

Each robbery shared a common theme: the callers requested the deliveries be made to unoccupied houses, Lt. Peebles said.

The first robbery occurred Wednesday when Pizza Hut deliverer Kevin Porter said he was approached by four or five men with bandanas covering their faces. Mr. Porter said the robbers forced him into an empty house on Buffington Court in Hephzibah, stole money and his pizza and drove away in his 2000 Chevy Impala.

On Friday, Jian Chao Liao, of Oriental Chinese Restaurant, told police he was attempting to deliver food to a Basswood Drive home in Hephzibah when he was forced into the empty home at gunpoint. He was robbed of his cell phone, money, a military permit and his burgundy 2003 Mazda Tribute.

Domino's Pizza driver Patrick W. Mack, 36, told police he saw three men in a burgundy sport utility vehicle while delivering to a Bennington Drive residence Sunday night. He said a man approached him from behind and carried him inside the house.

He told police the robbers threatened to shoot him, then took his car keys, $70, the pizza and his 1997 Dodge Neon.

On Monday morning, deputies spotted the SUV at a mobile home park on James Drive, which led to the arrests , Lt. Peebles said.

All five were booked into the Richmond County jail. The juveniles were taken to the Youth Development Campus, he said.

Reach Timothy Cox at (706) 823-3217 or tim.cox@augustachronicle.com.