Brothers busted for stealing sheriff's gun

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AIKEN, S.C. - You don't tug on Superman's cape. You don't spit into the wind. And in Aiken County, you don't steal the sheriff's gun from his Ford Explorer.

Two brothers were sentenced to 4 1/2 years in prison for stealing Sheriff Michael Hunt's gun during a rash of car break-ins in October 2004.

Sean D. Howell, 26, and Jamie L. Howell, 24, had each originally been charged with 10 counts of breaking into motor vehicles, but prosecutors agreed to drop six of the charges since the brothers had no previous criminal record.

Hunt's had his patrol-issued Explorer parked in his enclosed carport when it was broken into. His .40-caliber Glock was taken, along with his young son's hunting knife, some keys, four quarters and a pack of AA batteries, deputies said.

The gun was secured in the truck and not visible from the outside, Hunt said.

"Until your own family is affected by crime, you don't realize how hard it is to deal with it," said Hunt, who was in court Wednesday for the sentencing.

When asked by the judge why they broke into the sheriff's vehicle, Sean Howell said, "We didn't know whose the car was, to tell you the truth."

Both brothers also apologized to Hunt.

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