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Police accuse three in string of park thefts

LAWRENCEVILLE - Police say park goers in Gwinnett can breathe easier following a trio of arrests earlier this month.

Three people from neighboring counties have been linked to ongoing vehicle break-ins at Gwinnett County parks from Buford to Snellville, police said Monday.

Over recent months, police say, the suspects have been breaking into vehicles - often smashing car windows - and stealing purses containing personal identification, credit cards and debit cards.

The alleged thieves then used the cards to make purchases at area retail stores and gas stations, police said.

Police say they targeted Bogan Park in Buford, Pickneyville Park in Norcross and other parks in Snellville.

Snellville police arrested the three suspects - Shavaliere Cooper, 23, of Clarkston, Jenica Dunn, 24, of Lithonia and Charles Willingham, 44, of Atlanta - on Oct. 13 for break-ins in the Snellville area.

Gwinnett police caught wind of the arrests and recently interviewed the suspects in jail.

Following the interview, police had probable cause to charge them with auto thefts at the other Gwinnett County parks, said Gwinnett police spokeswoman Cpl. Illana Spellman.

"Investigators also have video of the suspects in the various retail stores where their purchases were made with stolen cards," Spellman added.

Spellman said all three suspects will be charged with entering an auto, forgery, fraud and transaction card theft.