GRAHAM COUNTY - Less than a week after his arrest in connection with a Thatcher store burglary, a San Carlos-area man was back in jail, suspected of stealing tools and copper wire from a Pima utility yard.
At around 11:40 Monday night, Aug. 27, a Graham County Sheriff’s Deputy responded to a report of a shirtless man waving a flashlight near Highway 70 and Webster Road. A Pima Police officer, arriving first, located the man, identified as Orlando Kenton, 44.
Kenton, who had a bag full of tools and coiled copper wire, reportedly said he and a friend had come from San Carlos to sell the wire. Kenton allegedly added that, after they stashed the items behind a Thatcher gas station, he “got into some trouble and was arrested.”
Early Wednesday morning, Aug. 22, Thatcher Police officers responded to an alarm at Hibbett Sports, 2145 W. Hwy. 70. They found the front door shattered, apparently by a large rock found inside the store. Clothing and broken glass were strewn on the floor and several pieces of clothing lay on the sidewalk.
Safford Police officers helped search the area, but were unable to locate a suspect. About two hours after the initial call and two blocks from the crime scene, Thatcher officers found Kenton with items from the store. He reportedly had a large pile of shirts and shorts with price tags still attached.
Kenton claimed he was asleep along the highway when someone threw the clothes at him. He led the officers to the alleged spot, where they found store hangers and more clothing. According to a Thatcher Police report, Kenton’s shoes matched footprints near the crime scene.
Arrested for possession of stolen property, Kenton reportedly confessed using the rock to break into the store. He allegedly said he did not know why he stole the items, but admitted he had been drinking. A portable breath test showed his blood alcohol content at .207, according to the report.
The recovered clothing, valued at $847, was photographed and returned to Hibbett Sports. The store’s front door was replaced by Eastern Arizona Glass. Kenton was booked into the Graham County Jail for burglary, criminal damage and possession of stolen property.
Monday night, Kenton told the deputy and the Pima officer he had been released that evening and picked up the stashed tools and wire. Despite suspecting the items were stolen, the officers found no prior reports of Kenton stealing tools or wire and released him. Once more, however, he was partly undone by footprints.
Learning the items were similar to items in the Graham County Electric Cooperative yard, a deputy checked out the yard. Part of the fence had been cut, tools were scattered on the ground and there were tracks entering and leaving the yard - tracks matching the soles of Kenton’s shoes, which the deputy had observed earlier.
Kenton was then relocated, picked up and brought to the Co-op, where the match was confirmed. A co-op supervisor reportedly identified the copper wire as the same type they used, adding that a flashlight and some tool bits found in Kenton’s bag belonged to the utility.
In addition, a number of Co-op work vehicles were vandalized with spray paint and their tool boxes opened. Tools were found taped together nearby, along with a shirt matching the one Kenton had on when he was released from jail. A spray paint can and more footprints matching Kenton’s shoes were also discovered. According to a Graham County Sheriff’s Office report, no signs of paint were found on Kenton, though he had showered in the meantime, or the clothes he was wearing.
Placed under arrest, Kenton was returned to jail and booked for burglary, criminal damage, criminal trespassing and possession of burglary tools (the items in his bag included bolt cutters).