Multi-county theft ring allegedly netted $29,000 in cigarettes


Members of an alleged multi-county theft ring have been indicted locally.
The Union County Grand Jury has indicted Gabriel Louis Odom, Andrew K. Foster and Tracie Nicole Chambers.

Foster, 51, whose court-listed address is the Morrow County Corrections Facility, is charged with 14 counts of breaking and entering as well as one count each of theft, attempted breaking and entering, grand theft and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity.
Chambers, 42, of 4486 Helen Drive, Columbus, is charged with four counts of breaking and entering along with one count each of grand theft and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity.
Odom, 48, of 3538 Binbrook Road, Columbus, is charged with five counts of breaking and entering along with one count each of theft and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity.
Union County Prosecutor Dave Phillips said the three were part of a “multi-county burglary operation with quite a number of break-ins.”
Phillips said the group allegedly broke into convenience stores in Union, Franklin, Delaware, Madison and Fairfield counties.
He said Foster was “the driving force behind them.”
He explained that once inside, the group would allegedly steal a variety of items, but mostly cigarettes.
“They would steal a significant dollar amount of cigarettes,” Phillips said.
According to court documents, the group stole more than $29,000 in cigarettes.
He said cigarettes are easy to sell or trade for drugs and difficult to trace.
The prosecutor said that one of the alleged burglaries was at a convenience store in Broadway.
The group is accused of breaking into Country Jack’s store and gas station at 1:30 a.m., April 27.
Lt. Jeff Stiers, of the Union County Sheriff’s Office, said two suspects were caught on the business’ surveillance cameras stealing cigarettes. He said he did not know the exact number, but the pair took “several cartons.”
No employees were in the business at the time, Stiers said. The Union County Sheriff’s Office was alerted of the breaking and entering by the business’ alarm system.
The suspects’ vehicle was also caught by the business’ surveillance system.
Phillips said the Union County Sheriff’s Office began an investigation. The local investigators began to put together a pattern based on similarities in the prior break-ins.
Phillips said Foster was training as a locksmith.
“He would remove the lock cylinder in a particular way,” Phillips said.
The investigators were then able to put together a group of suspects. The investigators were following Foster and Chambers.
Phillips said Foster and Chambers were “caught in the act” of burglarizing a store in Morrow County.
Investigators are still working to identify an unnamed man as part of the ring.
If convicted on all charges, Foster could face as many as 25 years in prison. Chambers could face more than 13 years and Odom could face a decade in prison if convicted.
“This was good work by the sheriff’s office and other agencies to see the pattern and put this together the way they did,” Phillips said.
Also indicted was:
– Brandy Bender, 37, of 1123 Harrisburg Pike, Columbus. Bender is charged with three counts of forgery. Court documents allege that in December, Bender allegedly forged several checks from Bridges Community Action in Union County.
If convicted, Bender could face as many as 36 months in prison.
– Anthony Christian Delgado, 22, of 2462 Triple Crown Crossing, Powell. Delgado is charged with six counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor.
Phillips said the case stemmed from a Madison County Department of Job and Family Services investigation with the Plain City Police Department.
He said that in January of 2019, Delgado and the victim, a 15-year-old, allegedly met a number of times for sexual activity, in both Powell and the Union County portion of Plain City.
Delgado denies having sex with, a relationship with or even knowing the girl.
“Forensic evidence would indicate that it did occur,” Phillips said.
If convicted on all counts, Delgado could face as many as nine years in prison.
– Jonathan R. Wurtsbaugh, 37, of 56 E. Bomford St., Richwood. Wurtsbaugh is charged with one count of possession of a Fentanyl-related compound, stemming from a Dec. 14 incident.
If convicted, Wurtsbaugh could face as many as 12 months in prison.
– Debra Gerdau, 42, of 20 Hillcrest Circle, Marysville. Gerdau is charged with one count each of receiving stolen property and theft. According to court documents, between February 2016 and March of this year, Gerdau allegedly stole more than $1,000 from a local man.
If convicted, Gerdau could face as many as 30 months in prison.
– Rashon D. Williams, 33, of 2116 Schenley Drive., Columbus. Williams is charged with one count of theft. According to court documents, on April 7, Williams allegedly stole more than $1,000 in merchandise from Wal-Mart.
If convicted, Williams could face as many as 12 months in prison.
– Tanda Sue Marie Fields, 28, of 117 W. Williams Ave., Bellefontaine. Fields is charged with one count of burglary.
According to court documents, on Jan. 15, Fields went into a local Wal-Mart. While in the store, Fields was seen switching tags on items so that they would ring up for less than their price.
“Tanda rang up all the items as she had tagged them,” according to court documents. “Tanda was also observed not ringing up all the items she selected.”
Wal-Mart officials and local police confronted Fields after she left the store.
According to court documents, Fields attempted to steal $120 worth of merchandise.
Fields, because of past actions, has been told she is not permitted to go into Wal-Mart stores. Because she was not allowed in the store, it made her alleged crime a burglary.
If convicted, Fields could face as many as eight years in prison.
– Sue Ann Ross, 39, of Zanesfield. Ross is charged with one count each of aggravated possession of drugs and possessing drug abuse instruments. The allegations stem from a Jan. 12 incident involving methamphetamine.
If convicted, Ross could spend a year in prison.
– Robert Lee Hamilton, 39, of 568 Tenth St., Marysville. Hamilton is charged with burglary, petty theft and criminal damaging.
According to court documents, on March 15, Hamilton allegedly broke into a woman’s home and stole a bottle of wine, then smashed the bottle on a car window.
If convicted on all counts, Hamilton could face more than eight years in prison.

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