Mississippi Bandits: Car thieves repair vehicle, use it for auto burglaries

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, March 8, 2023

The Warren County Sheriff’s Office arrested two individuals on Feb. 23 who have been charged with multiple felonies in relation to a series of burglaries and an auto theft, Sheriff Martin Pace said. On Feb. 22, the sheriff’s office received a report of a stolen vehicle from a Port Gibson resident. The victim was reportedly headed to a doctor’s appointment in Vicksburg when his vehicle, a 1996 GMC Sonoma pickup, broke down on U.S. 61 near Yokena in Warren County.

The individual left the vehicle for assistance but returned to where he had parked to find that it was missing.

The next day, Warren County Sheriff’s Office Lead Investigator Erich Jerscheid received information that a vehicle fitting the same description as the stolen truck had been involved in several auto burglaries.

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“Detective Jerscheid worked closely with Lieutenant Curtis Judge of the Vicksburg Police Department, and developed these individuals as suspects,” Pace said. “We were able, with some surveillance footage, to identify the suspects’ vehicle in the auto burglaries as being our stolen vehicle that we were already looking for.”

Later that day, Jerscheid received information about where these individuals were possibly staying and staked out the location for several hours until he caught them leaving in the stolen Sonoma.

Jerscheid detained the two individuals: Brian Willis Odom, 32, and Joseph Matthew Baggett, 30, both of Warren County.

Pace also said that the car tag on the stolen vehicle had been fraudulently changed after it was stolen.

“A tag check of the vehicle revealed that the tag actually came back to one of the individuals for a pickup truck fitting that description, but the VIN numbers did not match,” he said. “What we were able to find out is that one of the suspects had a title to a truck similar to the one they had stolen. They took that title to the tag office and actually obtained a tag based on the title and placed it on that vehicle. So if you ran the tag, it came back to a vehicle fitting that description, but not (the correct) vehicle.”

The alleged thieves also reportedly repaired the truck after stealing it. According to Pace, after towing the vehicle to a house, the suspects got the vehicle to a point where it was operable before using it in the crimes that followed.

The stolen pickup and most of the items stolen in the auto burglaries were recovered, which included tools and credit and debit cards. A walking cane taken from one of the auto burglary victim’s vehicles has not been recovered.  Both Odom and Baggett are each charged with one count of receiving stolen property, three counts of auto burglary and one count of obtaining a tag by fraud. Odom has also been charged with one count of debit card fraud for attempting to use a debit card stolen in one of the auto burglaries.

The two suspects stood in front of Judge Brandy Lewis at their initial appearance in court. Baggett’s bond was set at $60,000 and Odom’s bond was set at $70,000. However, neither are eligible to post bail as they are convicted felons currently on probation.

“This was a good partnership between Vicksburg Police Department investigators and Warren County investigators. We developed the original case, although some of the crimes actually occurred within the city limits,” Pace said. “But working together, we will present this all at one time to the next term of the grand jury.”