JONES COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - A Jones County man arrested Tuesday morning in connection with a church burglary in Jones County later admitted to a total of 18 break-ins across four counties.
Roderick Zamora, 24, of Jones County, could face up to 252 years in prison if convicted on each charge of commercial burglary.
According to the Jones County Sheriff's Department, Zamora said he stole between 1,100 and 2,100 dollars in cash over a six-month period from 14 churches in Jones County as well as two in Forrest, one in Perry County, and one in Lamar County.
"That figure I feel sure is going to increase tremendously," Major Don Scott said in reference to the amount of money stolen.
Deputies added that he picked churches based on whether or not they had secluded back entrances where he could pry open a door or window and park his car away from view.
Police were called at 11:30 p.m. Monday after an alarm went off at a New Testament Church on Currie Road in Laurel.
It was the New Testament Church Pastor Milton Branch's grandson, Trey Hicks, who got the license plate number of Zamora's vehicle.
"I looked and saw some lights go through the window," Hicks said, "and I went to the window and saw the car pull up and cut the lights off and he sat inside the car for about ten minutes."
Hicks then told his mother about the suspicious car.
"We went outside to shine the lights up on the car, and that's when we heard the alarm go off, so he ran to his car."
Hicks said he knew he needed to get the license plate, and he also got a description of the car - a white car with two dents in the side. When authorities arrived in response to the alarm, Hicks told him the information, and Sheriff's Department officials were able to trace the plates to the address of Zamora's parents house, where he lived.
Deputies arrived at the home three hours later and arrested Zamora at approximately 1:30 a.m on Tuesday.
Police initially did not know the robberies were linked, but Sergeant Jamie Tedford said, after speaking with Zamora for about three hours, he confessed to the 17 other break-ins.
"It was almost like, once you started it was almost like he wanted to take and kind of get it off his chest. And whenever you start interviewing like that," Tedford said,"you keep going until you get as much as you can get."
Officials said the investigation is still under way and there are "several" other church break-ins they say could be linked to Zamora, so more charges could come.
On Tuesday deputies then drove through the Pine Belt area with Zamora as he pointed out the locations he said he had robbed.
Zamora is on probation for breaking into a church in 2009. He told police the fees associated with this case accounted for his motivation in the new robberies.
A date for his initial court appearance is not set.
The following is a partial list of churches burglarized:
- New Testament Church
- Friendship Baptist Church
- County Line Baptist Church
- Faith Baptist Church
- Good Hope Baptist Church
- Tuckers Crossing Baptist Church
- Pleasant Ridge Baptist Church
- Ellisville Church of Christ
- Shiloh Baptist Church
- Fellowship Baptist Church
- Ellisville Jesus Name Church