Police say friendly neighbor became a thief

Erik Scott Smith found a new home on Byrd Street in Williamsburg and police say at first his neighbors thought he was a really nice guy.

“He would gain a little knowledge about his neighbors’ lifestyle, visit with them, maybe even have a cup of coffee,” said Williamsburg Officer Shawn Jackson.

But police say it was all a scheme.

“And the scheme was to steal items from the residence while they were gone,” said Officer Jackson.

When his victims weren’t looking police say Smith would pry open a window, or knock out an air conditioner, and then:

“He would catch the neighbors gone, he would burglarize their residence, take several items including firearms,” said Jackson.

Before the break-ins, Smith was a resident at the Christian Emergency Shelter, another place which gained his trust.

Shelter director Bill Woodward says he welcomed Smith in.

“He was homeless, and needed a place to stay, and hungry. That’s what we are here to provide for folks,” said Woodward.

But several months after helping Smith find a trailer to live in, they noticed their laptop missing and police later found it with other things Smith allegedly stole in Jellico, Tenn. Woodward can point to the bent-in lock and damaged door to show how the thief made his way in.

“It’s kind of a shock that he got it. You never know people,” said Woodward.

Smith is now in the Whitley County Detention Center.

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