Police Say Suspect Confesses To Multiple Break-Ins Around River Valley

FORT SMITH, Ark. (KFSM) — Police said a man has confessed to several car break-ins and four attempted break-ins at different homes in the River Valley.

Jacob Riley Whitsett, 18, was arrested Friday (Aug. 23).

Sgt. Jonathan Wear with the Van Buren Police said Whitsett was arrested after a short foot pursuit near the 1400 block of Cherry Street. After his capture, he was found to have an outstanding warrant out of Sebastian County.

Van Buren police said they arrested Whitsett and took him to the Crawford County Detention Center, where Fort Smith police interviewed him regarding break-ins around the Cliff Drive area earlier this summer.

Police said home video surveillance from Ryan Rose corroborates Whitsett's confession.

"We just recently moved into this neighborhood so our garage is full of moving boxes still. I was just glad security lights and camera did enough to keep him away," Rose said.

Rose and his family moved from Van Buren to Fort Smith after their vehicles at their last home were broken into.

"Ever since then I’ve just been hypersensitive to it. This is a really nice neighborhood but that doesn’t really matter whether someone categorizes neighborhoods as really nice or not as nice," Rose said.

The surveillance video shows the man walking along Rose's driveway and looking into his cars.

"I went to the other camera and it was clear cut someone walking across our property," Rose said.

Rose says he uses the Blink home security system and since the attempted break-in, he wants to install even more around his home.

"I can arm it with my voice, I can watch it on my TV" Rose said.

He says a mix of emotions ran through him when he saw someone on his property in the middle of the night, but he's just glad the suspect is off of the street.

"I know it’s hard to get someone locked up for a long time for maybe something that’s considered petty like vehicle break-ins, but hopefully with a little bit of time he’ll learn his lesson and he can get reformed," Rose said.

Whitsett was charged with three counts of theft of vehicles; 11 counts of breaking or entering (vehicles); seven counts of misdemeanor theft; three counts of theft of credit or debit card; one count of fleeing apprehension and one count of resisting arrest.

He was booked into the Crawford County Detention Center.

The cases have been turned over to the Sebastian County prosecutor's office for review.

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