Serial Robbery Suspect is Behind Bars

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COLUMBIA - Jermell Lamar Burnett, 29, is behind bars Wednesday after he robbed eight businesses in ten weeks.

Burnett was arrested for robbery in the first degree Tuesday evening in Columbia.

Each robbery occured just within a few miles of each other, the most recent occured at the Passions store on Business Loop 70 on September 17, 2013.

It all began back in July, when police say Burnett stole approximately ten car batteries from Battery Outfitters and sold them back for scrap.  A little over a week later he allegedly stole again from the same store.

Burnett had been helping out at 63 Auto Sales on Business Loop 70 washing cars part time.

On August 15, he allegedly stole ten car batteries out of vehicles at 63 Auto Sales.

After the alleged theft, 63 Auto Sales General Manager O.U. Ukoha, said the crimes could have been stopped earlier.

"Him robbing all of these places shouldn't have happened. If the Columbia Police Department had done something when I first made the report, and I gave them the name of the person I suspected to be the person robbing us, but they didn't do any thing about it. Before you know it, he started robbing everywhere else," Ukoha said.

Then on August 21, police say Burnett stole a cash drawer from a fruit stand across the street from 63 Auto Sales.

Five days later he allegedly stole tools from Mike's Auto Repair.

On September 16, investigators say he stole the cash drawer again from the same fruit stand.  A day later he allegedly stole the cash drawer from Passions caddy corner from the fruit stand.

Business owners in the area say they are glad he is behind bars.

"I know we'll never get the money back but at least we know he'll never be doing that again," fruit stand worker Hallie Jenkins said.

Burnett's own father feels that jail is where his son belongs.

"He did the crime, they caught him and now we're better for it," Robert Burnett said.