Burnettown police chief catches another alleged crook

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News 12 at 11 o'clock, October 22, 2007

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C.---Twice in two weeks, Burnettown's police chief was in the right place at the right time to catch an alleged robber on the run.

A man suspected of armed robbery was chased and stopped in his tracks right before he reached Augusta, thanks to the chief of police in Burnettown and some help from fellow officers. And this isn't the first time.

Chief D.P. Smith says it's all in a day's work.

The high speed chase ended on the South Carolina side of the Fifth Street Bridge, and the accused robber, 49-year-old Larry Smith, was caught red-handed.

Deputies say it all began at Langley's Fast Cash Payday Advance at around 1 o'clock in the afternoon. That's when they say Smith, wearing a ski mask and gloves, walked in the store, armed.

The 22-year-old victim was alone in the store.

"She was pretty scared, really shaken up," Fast Cash Payday Advance district manager Sharon Dorey told News 12. "The gentleman had come in the door, he climbed over the counter and went straight for her."

Dorey says the victim hit the alarm and ran out the back.

"My understanding from her is he was going after her," Dorey said. "He wanted information from her on where the money was."

The suspect made off with over a grand and was back out the door and in his car heading for Augusta.

Good Samaritans followed the robber down Jefferson Davis Highway until Burnettown's police chief could catch up and take over.

"The chase, again, seems to be everyone's favorite," laughed Chief Smith. He and two volunteer officers chased the robber at speeds of more than 85 miles an hour down the highway, until North Augusta officers threw stop sticks on the bridge.

This wasn't the first robber in the last month to feel the heat from Burnettown's own chief of police. Earlier this month, Chief Smith chased Darrel Spires from Burnettown to Spires' home in Augusta, where he was arrested for robbing a bank in Burnettown.

"A lot of people may think because this is a small community, rural area, it might be easy pickings, but we hope we are changing their mind about that," Chief Smith said.

Larry D. Smith faces up to 20 years in jail for felony armed robbery. Fast Cash Payday Advance says Smith was a customer of theirs since last year, but he usually visited the Aiken branch on Whiskey Road.

It was pretty remarkable that no one was hurt, what with all the afternoon traffic and especially on a confined space like the Fifth Street Bridge. The chief's car was damaged when it hit the stop sticks, but it's just a few flat tires.

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