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Two tree trimmers charged with burglary, thefts

By Joe Beck

A pair of out-of-town tree trimmers face a total of 10 charges in Shenandoah County after authorities linked them to burglaries in New Market and Mount Jackson.

Lt. Tom Shelton of the Shenandoah County Sheriff's Office said the investigation is continuing and more charges likely will be filed against Christopher Lee Campbell, 26, of Buena Vista and Joshua Daniel Towles, 26, of Amherst for similar offenses in other locations.

Shelton said the defendants broke into a vehicle parked at Woods Chapel Independent Bible Church in New Market on Nov. 13 and burglarized a house on Moreland Gap Road in Mount Jackson on Nov. 15.

"There will be more charges that will be placed," Shelton said. "We have four other locations from around the same period of time."

Both men are charged with several counts of grand larceny and one count of burglary with intent to commit assault and battery. They are scheduled to appear in general district court at 10 a.m. on Dec. 14.

The items stolen from the vehicle and house included electric hand tools, circular saws, band saws and similar instruments, Shelton said. A four-wheeler from the home on Moreland Gap Road was also stolen, he said.

Shelton said Campbell and Towles had been working in the area "for a while" as trimmers with Lewis Tree Service of West Henrietta, N.Y. The company had been subcontracted to clear foliage from power lines, he said.

Company personnel arranged to have them brought in for questioning in connection with the crime, Shelton said.

"We just said the sheriff's office needed to speak to them," Shelton said of the defendants, "and (company representatives) brought them in. They just drove them down here."

Shelton said the burglaries came to the attention of his agency after representatives from the state department of game and inland fisheries discovered what later proved to be items stolen from the residence. Shelton said state officials contacted the sheriff's office. Investigators then linked them to property stolen from the house on Moreland Gap Road.

Authorities linked the defendants to additional property crimes as the investigation continued, Shelton said.

"It kind of snowballed once we got them into custody," he said.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com


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