The search continues for a man who police said broke into four occupied homes and burglarized multiple vehicles early Tuesday morning.
As of press time Tuesday night, no arrests have been made.
The Aiken Department of Public Safety responded to a burglar alarm on the 300 block of Newberry Street just before 3:30 a.m. Tuesday, according to a statement.
Officers arriving on the scene saw a man fleeing the area on foot.
A perimeter was set up in the area, and officers discovered during the initial investigation that other homes nearby had been broken into, according to the statement.
Officers also discovered that a handgun had been taken from one of the homes.
All of the homes were occupied by residents sleeping in other areas of the home, according to Cpl. Jeremy Hembree.
At each location, the suspect entered the home through an unlocked or unsecured door, he said.
“Nothing was forced,” Hembree said. “A couple were oversights – people thought they had locked the latch but they hadn't.”
A resident called 911 a short time later and said a subject was inside of their home on the 200 block of Lancaster Street Southwest, according to the statement. The caller said the subject was a man wearing dark clothing, and that he fled the location on foot.
An additional perimeter was set up, and the Aiken County Bloodhound Tracking Team and a helicopter from the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division were brought in to assist in the search, police said.
During the search, Aiken Public Safety sent a reverse 911 call to alert residents of the situation.
Officers were searching a 3-mile radius near Newberry Street but later scaled down their search area.
Mead Hall Episcopal School was placed on lockdown shortly after 8 a.m., but the lockdown was lifted by noon Tuesday.
The initial search was called off, but officers will continue extra patrols in the Highland Park, Kalmia Hills and downtown areas.
At press time, officers had confirmed the suspect burglarized four homes and about 12 vehicles. He should be considered armed and dangerous.
Hembree said residents are urged to lock homes and their vehicles and to keep valuables in their vehicles out of sight.
Residents are urged to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to authorities by calling 911.
Individuals can also call CrimeStoppers of the Midlands at 1-888-CRIME–SC. Callers can remain anonymous and will be eligible for a cash reward of between $50 and $1,000.
Teddy Kulmala covers the crime beat for the Aiken Standard. He is a graduate of Clemson University and hails from Williston.
When authorities began searching for a man wanted in several home invasions in Aiken on Tuesday morning, the Aiken Department of Public Safety activated a reverse 911 call to alert residents of the situation. During the automated message, officers alerted residents of what was going on and urged them to lock their homes and vehicles to avoid becoming victims. “We contact emergency management and tell them where the incident location is, and the geographical areas we'd like the call to be placed to,” said Cpl. Jeremy Hembree of Aiken Public Safety. Hembree said officers place the call to county dispatch, which sends the automated call to all residents in the selected area. The call goes to any land line in that area, even in homes that do not have paid phone service. The reverse 911 service is available to any county resident with a land line in their home.