A 25-year-old Bartow County man has pleaded guilty and been sentenced for a rash of thefts from cars in Waleska.

Cherokee County District Attorney Shannon Wallace said Zachary Adam Dempsey, 25, accepted a plea bargain and was sentenced on Sept. 1 for entering unlocked automobiles in a Waleska neighborhood in 2019. Charges included 22 counts of entering autos and seve counts of theft by taking.

The thefts occurred in mid-February of 2019, according to records. Deputies from the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office were dispatched to investigate a series of vehicle break-ins that occurred overnight in homes in the Fox Hills subdivision of Waleska. In total, residents reported 22 separate incidents of entering automobiles, with three guns stolen, in addition to other items.

Surveillance videos from residents showed Dempsey entering and attempting to enter vehicles, Wallace said.

“At a time when most people are sleeping, Zachary Dempsey was methodically going through a neighborhood, intent on stealing from unsuspecting citizens. He ended up finding 22 unlocked vehicles and locating several guns and other valuables,” said Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney David Holmes.

Dempsey received a 20-year sentence, with the first 5 years to be served in prison and the remainder on probation. He was ordered to pay restitution to the victims. Other conditions of probation include 200 hours of community service, substance abuse evaluation and treatment, no alcohol or illegal drugs, and no contact with the victims. Dempsey was also banished from the county.

During the hearing, Judge David Cannon, Jr. encouraged the defendant to make a change in his life.

“In addition to his crimes of entering autos and theft by taking, Dempsey stole the irreplaceable feeling of safety and security for innocent victims of this neighborhood,” Wallace said. “Unfortunately, this crime continues to wreak havoc in communities throughout the county.”

Sheriff’s office officials have called entering autos one of the most common and preventable crimes in Cherokee County. Most thieves will move on to another vehicle whenever they encounter one with locked doors, sheriff’s office spokesman Capt. Jay Baker has said.

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Managing Editor

Gary Tanner is managing editor of The Cherokee Tribune, Cherokee Ledger-News and Cherokee Life magazine. He has been working as a journalist since 1985.

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