MT. VERNON — Police may have cleared a number of burglaries with the arrest of three Mt. Vernon women who are blood relatives.About a week ago, city police arrested 23-year-old Whitney Payne after she allegedly tried to pawn items with a $500 to $10,000 value. Payne was charged with theft over $500 and remains in the Jefferson County Justice Center on $25,000 bond.On Monday, Payne's sister, 30-year-old Cortney Pepple, was arrested by Mt. Vernon Police and also charged with theft over $500.On Tuesday, police arrested the mother of the two women, Cynthia Hamilton, 55, also of Mt. Vernon. Formal charges had not been filed as of Wednesday, according to State's Attorney Doug Hoffman, but Hamilton is expected to face similar charges. She was logged into the county jail on a preliminary charge of possession of stolen property. Bond has not been set.Police believe the three arrests may have cleared up a number of residential burglaries targeting elderly residents. "We think we've got the people in custody responsible for the burglaries," said Chief of Police Chris Mendenall. "Our investigation is continuing and there could be additional people involved. We've been working with the sheriff's department, and still looking for information to clear all the burglaries." Payne pleaded guilty in 2009 to a misdemeanor charge of possession of cannabis less than 2.5 grams and was sentenced to one year conditional discharge. A domestic battery charge in 2011 was dismissed, according to an online court data base.Hamilton has a pending 2010 Class 4 felony in Jefferson County for a charge of possession of burglary tools. Hamilton was found not guilty by reason of insanity on a Class 1 felony charge of residential burglary the same year, court records state.Pepple has no pending cases in Jefferson County and no records of dispositions were found on the online data base system.Jefferson County Crime Stoppers recently issued a plea to the public in helping solve 33 burglaries reported since November 2012, with 17 within the city limits and 16 in the county. A $500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the burglaries was offered by the organization.According to a news release issued earlier, the residential burglaries all happen in the same manner. Entrance is made to the home during the late evening or early morning hours, with the target most commonly an elderly resident's home.The homeowner is unaware their home has been burglarized until they notice missing cash and stolen jewelry. Sometimes, the victims have noticed forced entry to the residence. In some cases, the elderly resident was home asleep during the burglary.Police say their investigation is continuing. Anyone with additional information that may help law enforcement is encouraged to call the Crime Stoppers hotline at 242-8477 or the MVPD at 242-2727. Anonymous tips will be accepted.
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