Four Seneca Co. teens arrested in South Carolina

Seneca County Sheriff Jack S. Stenberg reported today that four Seneca County youths have been arrested in connection with a stolen South Seneca School bus and a burglary to an Ovid business. The four were also responsible for a home invasion in Steuben County and a high speed chase in Landrum, South Carolina that resulted in their arrest and being taken into custody.Arrested and being returned to Seneca County are the following: Alexander S. VanVleet, age 19, County Road 139, Ovid, N.Y.; Adam Campbell, age 19, County Road 139, Ovid, N.Y.; Sarah Smith, age 17, West Seneca Street, Ovid, N.Y.; and a 15 year old male not named who is being withheld pending Juvenile Offender status.Sheriff Stenberg reports the following sequence of events that led to today’s arre st:On 02/19/2012 @ 0256 HRS – Seneca County Sheriff’s Deputies were dispatched to Smith Road, Lodi, NY, and where they found a South Seneca school bus that had been stolen from the Main Street, Ovid school property. The bus, which had been heavily vandalized, had been involved in a property motor vehicle accident on County Road 131. On 02/22/12 @ 0301 HRS – Seneca County Sheriff’s Deputies were dispatched to a reported burglary at the Ovid Liquor Store, Seneca Street, Ovid, NY in which it was found that the front window of the business had been broken as several items had been stolen.Seneca County Sheriff’s Deputies, working around the clock, were able to identify “four persons of interest” as having been responsible for both the store burglary and the stolen school bus. It was determined that they had fled Seneca County and were believed traveling to the Steuben County area. “Unfortunately, we had a large geographic area we were concentrating our search efforts on and we were not able to pinpoint their exact location. Our investigators were working closely with police in the Southern Tier/Steuben County area.On 2/24/12, about 12:30AM, a home invasion took place in the Steuben County Town of Erwin in which two elderly persons were tied up and money and the victim’s vehicle were stolen. Seneca and Steuben County investigators were able to quickly determine that we were all looking for the same individuals. The home invasion in Steuben County was not random, but rather, the victims were targeted due to a previous connection with at least one of our persons of interest.Sheriff Stenberg advised that it was difficult t o determine where the group had taken the stolen vehicle until information was developed that they had received substantial assistance from a family member which allowed them to be able to leave New York State. “What is troubling to us is the fact that anyone would render assistance to this group in light of their escalating level of violence” said Stenberg.As these events were unfolding, Seneca County Investigators were able to gather enough evidence to obtain arrest warrants for VanVleet, Campbell, Smith and the 15 year old in connection with the school bus theft.Working closely with the New York State Intelligence Center, Steuben County Sheriff’s a nationwide police alert was broadcast.Stenberg reported Seneca County Sheriff’s Investigators developed information that group was headed to the Clemson, South Carolina area. Poli c e in that area were alerted.On 2/25/12, police in Landrum, South Carolina spotted the stolen vehicle on I-26 and an attempt was made to stop the vehicle. A 15 mile high speed chase ensued resulting in an accident and immediate apprehension of Campbell, Smith and the 15 year old. VanVleet fled on foot and after a short foot chase, he was apprehended and taken into custody. The stolen vehicle was recovered with investigators finding that the four had attempted to disguise the stolen vehicle by spray painting it with paint purchased at a Steuben County store.The group was being held at the Spartanburg County Detention Facility, with the 15 year old being held in secure juvenile detention.Seneca and Steuben County Investigators working with police in Landrum, South Carolina, were able to link the group to the school bus theft, the liquor store burglary a n d the home invasion in Steuben County.All four have appeared in court in South Carolina, waived extradition and are being returned to New York by Seneca and Steuben County authorities. Today, our investigators who traveled to South Carolina were able to obtain the necessary evidence linking all four to all of the crimes alleged committed.Sheriff Stenberg credited not only his investigators, but also those from the Steuben County Sheriff’s Office, New York State Intelligence Center and police in Landrum and Clemson, South Carolina along with the Seneca and Steuben County District Attorney’s Office and the Spartanburg Office of 7th Judicial Solicitor. “The arrests in this case demonstrate the high level of cooperation and coordination of law enforcement agencies and prosecutors in both New York and South Carolina” said Stenberg.Upon being returned to Seneca County later today, all four will be arraigned on a variety of criminal charges in connection with the stolen school bus and burglary.The investigations are continuing and additional arrests are pending.

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