News Report Staff

A Shelby County man has been arrested for the Zales Jewelry Store crash-in burglary at Village Square Mall and law officers expect to have another suspect in custody soon, Effingham Police Chief Jeff Fuesting said Friday afternoon.

Jordan JA Johnston, 23, is expected to face charges of burglary and criminal damage to property, both felony counts, for his part in the break-in and theft early Thursday morning that had a Cadillac Crossover smashing through a mall doorway and then using the vehicle to ram and shatter a window to allow access to Zales.

An undetermined amount of jewelry and merchandise were stolen from Zales before the suspects drove out the damaged entranceway on the north side of the Effingham mall.

Effingham Bureau of Criminal Investigation Detectives on Thursday obtained information regarding the suspect vehicle, which was recovered by law enforcement that day in Shelby County. Police were called to Village Square Mall after 3 a.m. Thursday when a night maintenance employee reported the incident.

This turned the investigation into a joint effort involving Effingham Police detectives and Shelby County deputies. The officers were able to identify one suspect as Johnston, who was later jailed in Shelby County Jail on what Chief Fuesting described as unrelated charges. The charges listed Friday on Johnston at the Shelby Jail included burglary, trespass to a vehicle and property damage.

In addition, the Effingham detectives gathered information on a second person of interest, who was being sought by law enforcement. Fuesting had praise for everyone, including the general public that shared information with officers, involved in helping recover the vehicle and apprehend a suspect so quickly.

“This is an outstanding example of the public working with multiple law enforcement agencies to bring about a swift resolution to a serious crime. The Bureau of Investigations worked tirelessly to develop leads that led to this arrest,” Fuesting stated. “Without the assistance of deputies of the Shelby County Sheriff’s department, this investigation would not have been solved so quickly. I am proud of the work the Deputies put forth solving this incident.”

The burglary occurred after 2:30 a.m. Thursday. The criminal investigation and shattered glass in the mall forced a lockdown of the retail center. Most stores were open by late morning Thursday. Repairs to the window and display cases in Zales had that business closed longer. The jewelry store was the only one burglarized early Thursday.

The incident came as a shock to many Effingham residents, especially mall employees and mall walkers allowed in the building hours before the stores open. The lockdown kept the public out until the cleanup and investigation was ended at the crime scene.