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Chief: Two crimes in Portal Monday morning may be connected

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    Portal Police Chief Jason Sapp hopes someone in the neighborhood can help solve a couple crimes that occurred early Monday morning he thinks may be connected.
    Someone stole a Jeep Cherokee from a used car lot in Portal, and someone - around the same time - tried to disable the alarm system at Lanier's IGA.
    A witness saw a suspicious man in the area when his dog's barking woke him in the wee hours of the morning, Sapp said. The witness called the Bulloch County Sheriff's Department after he noted a black male in his "30's to 40's, wearing a light colored shirt and dark pants and shoes"  loitering around his home, and when a deputy arrived at the scene, the unknown man fled.
    He could be linked to the auto theft and break-in attempt, he said.
    In the early morning hours Monday, someone cut a chain link fence at Lovett's Auto Sales on U.S. 80 West in Portal, Sapp said. The offender moved one vehicle out of the way, then took a burgundy 1988 Jeep Cherokee from the lot, driving it through the hole in the chain link fence, he said.
    The Jeep was recovered a short distance away from the auto lot later Monday afternoon, he said.
    Inside the Jeep were several tools used in the theft, and a screwdriver left at the scene of Lanier's IGA matched the other tools, he said.
    The offender who tampered with the alarm system at the grocery store "tried to disarm the alarm system with water," he said.
    Someone hooked up a water hose and tried to douse the alarm system, apparently trying to short it out, he said.
    The alarm did not sound. However, "that was as far as they got," he said. No further break-in attempts were apparent.
    When the witness reported the suspicious person, a deputy in the area responded, and saw the suspect, who fled on foot, Sapp said.
    The auto theft and alarm tampering remain under investigation, and Sapp asked that anyone with information regarding either incident call the Portal Police Department at 865-5330. All calls will remain confidential, he said.
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