Burglary suspect likely behind crime spree in five counties

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MERCER COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - It's Wednesday night and you can find the McKinleys helping the youth at their church, but in the back of their mind they're wondering what's next.

"It's been two weeks, as of yesterday. Still no answer but you know that's not unexpected," said Hershel McKinley, a victim of a burglary.

In January, the McKinleys came home to find their back door kicked in and nearly every drawer rummaged through.

"When you're 62 you have a lot of precious memories in those jewelries, and of course, they're all gone now," said Shirley McKinley.

"It's still difficult because your home is your sanctuary and you keep your memories there, no matter where you are, and these are gone," added Hershel.

The McKinleys aren't the only victims, investigators believe the same suspect could be behind roughly eight to ten other burglaries around mercer county, and that's not all.

"There are active cases in Casey, Lincoln, Boyle, Mercer and Anderson where the same "MO" is used," explained Captain Scott Elder of the Mercer County Sheriff's Office.

Investigators believe James Lopez, Jr., of Somerset, is their person of interest, and they say all of these cases are happening in the middle of the day. Captain Elder said Casey County already has a warrant out for Lopez's arrest in connection with a burglar reported there.

"We believe he's going around knocking on the doors, once nobody answers then he's forcing entry through the rear whether it be a door or window," described Captain Elder, adding, "it is very brazen especially when you don't know what neighbors are home."

The longer this spree goes on, the more it frustrates these officers.

"(It's) extremely frustrating because at this point he's one step ahead. But now that we know who he is and we know who we're looking for we're starting to close that gap."

As for the victims, they just hope that gap closes quickly so they can find some peace.

Captain Elder said there is a Crime Stoppers reward for any information that leads to Lopez's arrest.

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