Breaking News
More () »

Police: 'One of the main actors' in string of St. Louis business burglaries charged

According to police reports, seven businesses were targeted over six days.

ST. LOUIS — A man has been charged for being involved in a recent spree of burglaries in St. Louis.

Charges were announced Friday against 18-year-old Zavion McGee on two counts of second-degree burglary, two counts of second-degree property damage, one count of stealing over $750 and one count of stealing a controlled substance. 

According to court records, the charges McGee is facing involve burglaries that occurred on Oct. 8 and Oct. 16. St. Louis Police Sgt. Charles Wall said investigators are still working to link McGee to additional crimes they suspect he is responsible for.

Wednesday morning, in a virtual news briefing, police confirmed a suspect, now identified as McGee, had been taken into custody on Tuesday. St. Louis Police Captain Donnell Moore from District 6 told reporters during the briefing, "We feel one of the main actors in these burglaries, we currently have in custody."

Moore shared several pieces of evidence linking him to several recent burglaries. 

Credit: SLMPD
Zavion McGee booking photo

"He is a part of a group and the number of burglaries occurred in the past month, we are easily looking at 20-something burglaries committed by this individual and his co-conspirators," Moore explained. 

Detectives also found a semi-automatic handgun, which was illegally modified.

Police are requesting federal charges because of this finding.  

Moore elaborated by saying they could not share any more specifics at the time because they were trying to arrest the group that is connected to the suspect.

Sgt. Wall was also on the call and shared the latest police efforts to curb the crimes, saying that all of the district captains have been adjusting personnel patrol plans more into the overnight hours.

"We’ve been seeing an increase in those business burglaries and focusing on more visible patrol," Sgt. Wall said. 

This comes as multiple businesses clean up the mess left behind by these thieves.

According to police reports, seven businesses were targeted within six days.

On Wednesday morning at 6:30 a.m., Hooters in downtown St. Louis was one of the recent victims.

When police arrived at the scene, they said they saw a large window on the south side of the business damaged and heard the alarm going off. 

Police soon said they learned a cash register was damaged and another was missing.

The 5 On Your Side I-TEAM obtained new details from a law enforcement source about how widespread this problem is. 

There were 70 smash-and-grabs in three weeks from Oct. 26 to Nov. 16. Most of them are taking place between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m.

The suspects are primarily looking for money and taking it from cash registers and safes. 

Police believe there are at least three active groups committing these crimes right now, ranging from groups of two to six. 

In the group of victims is Danni Eickenhorst and her restaurants. 

She is the owner of The Fountain on Locust and the co-owner of Steve's Hot Dogs

In October, Steve's Hot Dog was targeted. 

"We got a call about three in the morning and our store was broken into. The front glass was shattered. Thieves came in armed with weapons and they went in our restaurant, turned it upside down, looking for cash," she said.

In minutes, the thieves combed through the restaurant but left empty handed. 

"We had to deal with the violation of it. We’re already operating on slim margins and coming out of a pandemic and then it takes away our resources to do these unnecessary repairs and recovery," Eickenhorst shared. 

Beyond that, she has heard other business owners spending thousands of dollars to repair the damage. 

"Right now, insurance companies are dropping restaurants for coverage left and right, so if you make a claim like that, you put your restaurant at risk. We didn’t make a claim. It was too risky. We couldn’t risk being dropped by insurance," Eickenhorst pointed out.

She told 5 On Your Side she was happy to hear about the recent arrest. 

But that does not mean she's not beefing up security at the restaurants.

Besides stepping up protocols inside, she also reached out to police to have a live feed camera near The Fountain on Locust.

"I would encourage other restaurants, if they believe they are in hot spot, reach out to your local district captain and ask if they can get a live feed camera in your district," she suggested. 

To watch 5 On Your Side broadcasts or reports 24/7, 5 On Your Side is always streaming on 5+. Download for free on Roku or Amazon Fire TV.



Before You Leave, Check This Out