Inmate captured sneaking into jail
He’s thought to have broken out, burglarized a store, then returned.
www.jacksonville.comÂ |Â Terry DicksonÂ |Â Mar. 9, 2009
A Camden County inmate was arrested Saturday morning as he tried to sneak back into jail, Sheriff Tommy Gregory said.
The inmate was arrested as deputies investigated a 1:55 a.m. jail breakout and the burglary of a nearby convenience store.
“We thought we had two separate incidents. By the time we locate this guy, he’s one and the same,” Gregory said.
Jail personnel suspected someone had broken out when a detention officer routinely checking doors found one to be unlocked that had been secure a few minutes earlier, Gregory said.
As officers tried to determine who was missing, patrol deputies responded to an alarm at the Snappy Foods store about a block away on U.S. 17, he said.
Firefighters at the station next door told officers they had seen a man dressed all in white – like inmate clothing – leaving the store, Gregory said.
Meanwhile, back at the jail, a deputy saw the shadow of a man trying to stealthily get into the jail, he said.
The man was arrested and found to be an inmate carrying about 14 packs of cigarettes, Gregory said.
Harry Jackson, 25, of St. Marys, faces new charges of breaking out of jail and burglary, the sheriff said.
He was in jail originally for driving with a suspended license, possession of a controlled substance, obstruction of an officer, possession of drug objects, possession of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school and violating his probation.
“When I took office Jan. 1, there were rumors that inmates were using wire off brooms to pop these electronic locks,” Gregory said. “It turned out to be true.”
When he took office, Gregory also banned smoking at the jail.
The inmates were suspected of leaving through a recreation room door and getting out into the exercise yard where they could pick up contraband tossed over the fence, Gregory said.
Because of jail overcrowding, a number of inmates are sleeping in bunks in the recreation room, he said.
Although his office had not detected any breakouts, he nonetheless was working with the county engineer, who was going to install plates to cover the locking mechanisms and make them more secure, Gregory said.
“We’re several days short” in getting and installing the plates, he said.
He also began buying brooms without wire.
Gregory laid out this scenario for Saturday’s breakout:
The inmate was to have gone into the exercise yard and picked up cigarettes, but found none.
Having been told by other inmates to not come back without cigarettes, he climbed the fence and made his way to Snappy Foods.
There he broke a window, got into the store and took the cigarettes. As he tried to get back inside with the cigarettes, he was caught.
Jail cameras showed other inmates acting suspiciously and investigators are interviewing them to determine if others were involved in a conspiracy, Gregory said.