Columbia – Today, a Columbia man was sentenced to 24 years after pleading guilty to 26 counts of Burglary 1st Degree and 1 count of Obtaining Goods Under False Pretenses less than $2,000, the Fifth Circuit Solicitor’s Office reported.
Between June 2014 and July 2016, Brooks Easterling burglarized homes all over Richland County. The incident locations spanned the entire length of the County from the Rosewood area all the way to Elgin. Over $1 million dollars worth of belongings were taken from homeowners to include, but not limited to:
Jewelry, Silver, Watches, Wallets, Firearms (pistols, revolvers, shotguns), Electronics (phones, tablets, laptops, computers, cameras), Medications, Under garments, Sports Memorabilia, Photos, IDs, Wills, Estate Planning Documents, Personal Paperwork, Family Heirlooms, and Irreplaceable/Invaluable personal belongings.
Nearly all of the incidents occurred while the victims were away from home with the vast majority taking place while the victims were out of town for an extended period of time. Easterling would scout out the neighborhoods in advance looking for signs that the victims were not home before making his move to enter their residence.
Entry was often made by breaking a window or door pane. It was also a frequent occurrence for him to do things such as cut the alarm, remove the power meter, use ladders or trees to gain entry to the 2nd floor windows of homes, use chair cushions or rugs to muffle the sound of glass breaking, etc.
Investigators were able to break the case open in July of 2016. A used tissue was left near the point of entry inside one of the victim’s homes. That tissue was collected and analyzed by the Richland County Sheriff’s Department crime lab where they were able to obtain a DNA match to Easterling. Based on that hit, arrest warrants were obtained and a search warrant was conducted at Easterling’s house where hundreds of items of stolen property from the burglaries were located.
After sentencing, Fifth Circuit Solicitor Byron E. Gipson remarked, “I hope that this sends a message to citizens of Richland County that these types of crimes will not be tolerated and will be prosecuted vigorously.”
Deputy Solicitor Daniel R. Goldberg represented the state; the Honorable Courtney Clyburn-Pope presided.
Byron E. Gipson
Solicitor, Fifth Judicial Circuit