ST. LOUIS — Byers' Beat is a weekly column written by the I-Team's Christine Byers, who has covered public safety in St. Louis for 15 years. It is intended to offer context and analysis to the week's biggest crime stories and public safety issues.
Police and federal authorities are getting closer to finding out who is driving stolen cars through medical marijuana dispensaries after identifying a father and son involved in at least one of them.
Those connections could help investigators identify the thieves who are driving stolen cars into gun stores across the area, too.
Marvin Bailey, 40, has been charged with stealing, property damage and burglary for the Aug. 21 break-in at SWADE Dispensary, where a car slammed into the front of the building on Cherokee Street and damaged its foundation. The business reported marijuana was stolen during the incident, according to court documents.
Police searched Bailey’s home along the 3700 block of Ohio Avenue in the Gravois Park neighborhood. He told officers he had a large amount of marijuana products his son had given him to sell. Police said Bailey’s son is also under investigation for “numerous burglaries of dispensaries in the St. Louis area,” according to the documents.
The older Bailey is also a convicted felon. His criminal record dates back to 2001, when he was charged with two counts of tampering with a motor vehicle. He pleaded guilty and got two years of probation.
He completed his probation, but he didn’t stop stealing cars. In 2005, he pleaded guilty to tampering with a motor vehicle and got sentenced to nine years in prison. Then, in 2011, he pleaded guilty to stealing and caught a 15-year prison sentence.
By June 2020, Bailey was out of prison. That’s when he was charged with second-degree assault and violating an order of protection. He pleaded guilty to both charges in 2021. He got nine months credit for time served on the order of protection violation, and five years of probation for the assault, according to court records.
Surveillance footage from SWADE helped police identify him as one of multiple suspects who got out of several cars parked near the dispensary and broke in after a car slammed into it, according to the documents.
During a search of Bailey’s 22-year-old son’s Hazelwood home, police found packaging from products stolen during the marijuana dispensary break-ins. Bailey’s son was not there during the raid, according to a police source familiar with the investigation.
Bailey’s son has not yet been charged in connection to the crimes, so 5 On Your Side is not naming him.
The crew that the Baileys are accused of running with during dispensary break-ins are also suspected of driving stolen cars through five gun stores across the area in recent weeks.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives issued a statement this week that said its agents are working with several police departments to identify a theft ring that has struck gun stores in the area.
"In each incident, the 5-to-10 suspects gained entry into the federally licensed gun stores by ramming stolen cars into the buildings, shattering windows to allow access to the buildings," the statement said.
In some cases, the suspects came away empty-handed, but the feds said the thieves had stolen more than 50 firearms in during successful attempts.
The targeted gun stores include:
- Academy Sports in St. Peters, Missouri.
- Academy Sports in O'Fallon, Illinois.
- Metro Shooting Supplies in Bridgeton, Missouri.
- Michael’s Arms Accessories in Edwardsville, Illinois.
- Osage County Gun in Wright City, Missouri.
The latest burglary happened Saturday, Sept. 3 in Wright City. Osage County Gun Manager John Dawson told 5 On Your Side’s Rhyan Henson the crew stole 10-to-50 handguns and a few rifles and caused about $250,000 worth of damages.
The store remained closed as of Friday, Sept. 9, more revenue lost. Dawson said the community rallied behind the business to help clean up and fix the damage.
Dawson warned that unless the group is caught or something changes, more area stores will be burglarized.
"There are some stores where the staff sleep there at night,” Dawson said. “If you have issues with security, you may want to consider sleeping there while this stuff is going on.”
The ATF is offering a reward of up to $7,500 for information leading to the identification and arrest of the suspects and to the recovery of stolen guns.
Anyone with information was asked to contact the ATF by phone at 1-800- 283-4867, email to ATFTips@atf.gov or online through its website. You can also text "ATFKC" to 63975.
Last time I checked, Bailey’s son is still on the run.