A West Plains man charged in July with burglary, after a March break-in at JCPenney and theft of over $100,000 worth of jewelry, is now charged with more felonies related to other burglaries reported at MFA Inc., during which a vehicle was stolen and burned.
Shane L. Collins, 34, Prospect Street, has added six felony charges to four filed earlier this year by prosecutors. Added Oct. 1r are two counts of second-degree burglary, two counts of stealing more than $750, stealing a vehicle and knowingly burning or exploding, according to court records.
He was initially charged with two counts of forgery and a count each of stealing $25,000 or more and second-degree burglary, all felonies.
BREAK-INS AT MFA
On July 14, an employee with MFA, on Bratton Avenue at County Road 8240 in West Plains, reported to police someone forced entry into the business and took $1,000 in cash and several knives valued at $528. According to West Plains Police Detective Joe Neuschwander, a review of video surveillance captured at about 3:03 a.m. that day showed a suspect wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt, cap and black mask. The suspect appeared to take several knives from a display shelf and remove items from behind the counter.
Three days later, the business reported another break-in that included the theft of a 2007 Chevrolet Impala valued at $5,000, plus $10 in cash, 32 20-ounce bottles of soda, a three-piece pry bar set and several knives valued at $2,554.
Video surveillance showed that, at about 3:13 a.m. that day, a suspect wearing a grey hooded sweatshirt, cap and red mask took knives from a display shelf, items from behind the counter and several bottles of soda from a display cooler. The suspect also reportedly exposed part of a forearm tattoo during the incident.
At about 3:59 a.m., the suspect was seen on video placing items into the back seat of the Chevrolet and drive away.
At about 9:44 a.m., Officer Brad Jones found the vehicle parked at a vacant house on Johnson Street. When detectives arrived to process the vehicle for evidence and it was opened, it was noticed the interior of the windows were covered with a smoky residue and there was a strong odor of gasoline.
The interior of the car had been burned, causing extensive damage that seemed to have originated in the passenger floorboard area and spread to the dash and headliner. A melted soda bottle with the odor of gasoline was taken as evidence.
On July 18, detectives reviewed Collins' Facebook page, and a photo dated from 2015 reportedly showed part of a forearm tattoo that matched the tattoo seen on video surveillance of the burglary suspect.
On July 20, a man who knew Collins reported to police two checks had been taken and forged in the amounts of $120 and $400 and cashed at Discount Cigarettes and Beer, and Collins had been in the man's house the week prior and was seen near where the checks were kept.
A probable cause statement was submitted to prosecutors that day, noting Collins had not been located for questioning. Court records show a warrant with a $50,000 bond was issued for Collins on July 9 on the charges related to the JCPenney burglary, another with a $5,000 bond issued Sept. 1 for the forgery charges, and the warrant for the latest charges relating to the burglaries at MFA, with bond set at $25,000, was issued Oct. 16. None have been served.
On July 22, the Discount Cigarettes and Beer employee who had cashed the checks, and who knew Collins and the alleged victim, said Collins told her the checks had been given to him by the victim to help him with bail money.
The cashier provided documentation that, at about 5:21 p.m. July 16, Collins cashed a $120 check and purchased lottery tickets with the cash, then at about 8 p.m., cashed a $400 check he claimed was for bail money. She added she recalled Collins provided a signature on documentation of the transactions, and a driver's license number not belonging to him, though video footage of the transaction was not available.
Charges against Collins and another West Plains man related to the JCPenney burglary and theft, which happened in the early morning hours of March 24, were filed on July 8.
In that incident, West Plains Police Detective Bryan Brauer reported that officers arrived at the business to find a large rock had been thrown through a window and the jewelry display was damaged, with 88 pieces of jewelry worth $114,824.84 stolen.
An inventory list of the missing jewelry and photos were provided to law enforcement and that same morning, an employee of Rickie David Jewelers told police Collins had been there attempting to sell two rings with price tags attached with a value of $5,000 each.
The business owner reportedly stated Collins told him he could “hook him up” with a lot more jewelry if he didn’t report the transactions to police.
The owner then said he took photos of the rings and told Collins he believed they were stolen before telling him he wasn’t interested in buying them, then provided police with photos of the rings. The day after the burglary, Joseph L. Newton, 55, Utah Street, allegedly contacted Brauer about the incident and told him he saw Collins with a large amount of jewelry, and Collins had talked about throwing a rock through a window.
When asked, Newton reportedly denied getting any of the rings from Collins, but reportedly later changed his story, telling police on April 14 he hadn’t been honest with them, that he did get two rings from Collins worth about $1,500 each and he had sold one of them to a pawn shop in Texas.
Further investigation into that claim through online searches of pawn shop records in Austin, Texas, reportedly proved Newton pawned two of the rings.
When Collins was questioned by police, he allegedly denied breaking into JCPenney, though he reportedly admitted to trying to sell two rings to Rickie David Jewelers, but said they were fake and he threw them away.
When Brauer contacted Newton’s probation officer June 8 and informed him Newton was a suspect in the investigation, the probation officer reportedly told Brauer he was unaware Newton was out of state, adding that Newton had not reported in person since November 2019.
Newton was convicted in 2015 of two counts of possession of a controlled substance, handed a five year suspended execution of sentence and five years supervised probation. In 2018, court records show, he entered an Alford plea on a 2016 charge of distribution of a controlled substance and handed an eight year suspended execution of sentence with five years supervised probation.
An Alford plea is a plea in which the defendant does not admit guilt but admits there is likely enough evidence for a jury to come to a conclusion of guilt.
He was already awaiting trial on 2020 charges of second-degree assault, armed criminal action and possession of a controlled substance, according to court records.
Court records show on Oct. 5 Newton pleaded guilty to a charge of possession of a controlled substance in that case, and stealing $750 or more related to the JCPenney burglary. He was handed a seven year suspended execution of sentence and five years of supervised probation, and on Thursday, had failed to appear for fingerprinting as ordered, the records show.
In 2012, Collins was convicted of four counts of second-degree burglary and sentenced to seven years in prison, according to court records.