By Mimi Wood, The Island Eye News Staff Writer
Photos courtesy of IOPPD.
About six weeks ago, two arrests were made in conjunction with property crimes committed on Isle of Palms. Neither arrest was made on the island and police have yet to formally link the incidents, three in all. However, police do believe there may be a connection, especially as review of the Circle K surveillance video showed the suspects together earlier that evening.
Ryan Patrick Josey, 34, one of the two people arrested in early October, was first arrested in 2008, charged with assaulting a police officer. Records show he’s been arrested at least once every year since then, save 2013, culminating in his most recent arrest, on Oct. 9.
An Isle of Palms resident south of the connector awoke that morning to a call from a Mount Pleasant hotel. A hotel employee found the woman’s purse in their dumpster. (At this point she was unaware her purse, left in her car, was missing). In reviewing the security video from the previous night, the hotel employees noticed a similarity between the man who had dumped the purse and one of their guests.
A search of his hotel room found not only Josey, but a host of stolen property, along with heroin. The room was purchased using the IOP woman’s stolen credit card, resulting in two charges from IOPPD. Mount Pleasant police added charges of their own and ultimately made the arrest.
“It all goes back to drugs,” states IOP Police Captain Jeffrey Swain. “They need their drugs and they get desperate.”
North of the Connector, two additional incidents occurred that same night, Oct. 8. Arrested in connection with both was Mary Elizabeth Ham, 37, of North Charleston.
Ham’s antics kept IOPPD hopping the next morning, Oct. 9. They responded first to a call from an island resident, who upon awakening, had a message from her credit card company stating that an attempted $1,565 purchase from Wal-Mart on James Island had been declined. Initially thinking someone had gotten a hold of her credit card number, she learned, after speaking to her credit card company, that her card had been physically swiped through the Wal-Mart card-reader.
“At that time, the victim walked out to her car to get her purse and noticed that her vehicle had a concrete statue thrown through her driver window…” notes the incident report on file at the IOPPD.
“It was a garden gnome,” confirmed Swain.
Later that same morning, police responded to a call from a family visiting from Massachusetts, stating their rental car was missing. They’d last seen it when they parked it in front of their rented residence, the night before.
“The victim did state that the vehicle was left unlocked and the keys to the vehicle were left inside,” states the IOPPD incident report.
“We see this pattern every year; usually it’s ‘kids’ in their 20s, or a couple,” Swain continues.
This past June, a car was stolen from an open garage in the 3700 block of Palm Blvd., in broad daylight. The owner of the home confirmed that her visiting guests had left the keys to their unlocked Mercedes inside the vehicle, after loading their golf clubs into the trunk in anticipation of a day on the links. They went upstairs and ate breakfast; upon returning to the garage found the Mercedes gone.
“I’ve had perpetrators tell me, ‘We come over (to Isle of Palms) because it’s good pickins,’” Swain elaborates. “The criminals know people don’t lock their cars. I recently had a suspect tell me that he and his accomplice worked the streets systematically; the accomplice, in a car, would drop him off at the top of a street, and he’d walk down, flipping door handles, helping himself to the contents of the unlocked vehicles. If the vehicle was locked, he’d just move on to the next car. His accomplice would pick him up at the bottom of the street, and they’d move on to the next street.”
“Josey was a big deal. He’s part of a ring; there’s more to his story,” Swain confided, unable to disclose additional details. “We’re asking for our citizens’ help. Property crime can easily happen, and it does, if people don’t take a few easy steps to prevent it,” he concludes.