Cherokee Co. deputies investigate possible gang activity - FOX Carolina 21

Cherokee Co. deputies investigate possible gang activity

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Cherokee Co. deputies investigate smash-and-grab incidents, possible gang activity (FOX Carolina/ 9/6/17) Cherokee Co. deputies investigate smash-and-grab incidents, possible gang activity (FOX Carolina/ 9/6/17)
GAFFNEY, SC (FOX Carolina) -

 On Wednesday, customers walked in and out for pick-up orders at AJ's Grill & Pizza in Gaffney, but just recently the restaurant got an unwanted visitor.

"It was awful. It was one of the shatter-proof doors," Heather Vinesett explained. "He pushed it in enough to get in and get out."

Vinesett is a manager at the restaurant and says an alarm sounded which then triggered a phone call from a Cherokee County deputy.

"He looked at the cash register video and saw the cash register was gone," she said.

Investigators say they're now looking into 10 smash-and-grab incidents. There are six in the city and four in the county.

"It's crazy," said Vinesett. "I think it's drugs."

Investigators say the Highway 11 Food Mart got hit twice.

"They'll go in, smash a window, grab a cash register and other small items," Cherokee County Sheriff Steve Mueller said.

He says gang investigators are looking into the crimes.

"We've identified probably more than 13 gangs, groups, or cliques that exists in Cherokee County," Mueller said.

He says clothes and masks worn in some store surveillance videos could be connected to YouTube videos.

"You see a lot of guns in the video, you see them with narcotics in the video," Mueller said.

Investigators say it's also possible gangs are involved in recent shootings. 

"Obviously it's been dark days for Cherokee County and the City of Gaffney for the past you know 30-45 days with the nightclub shooting and then the two deaths of the 18-year-old and the 8-year-old child," Mueller said.

Vinesett says although there's a camera at the restaurant, it's good to know investigators are also watching.

Mueller says parents and mentors can help by letting young people know gang life will lead to either death or prison.

He also says that despite a recent uptick in violent crime, a recent report shows a 70 percent reduction in juvenile crime in the past 45 days.

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