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JONESBORO, Ark. – Paragould and Jonesboro authorities just helped each other and the whole area out in a big way: the arrest of two suspects believed to be behind a large number of vehicle break-ins.
Since January 1, 2019, the City of Jonesboro Police Department has taken 180 vehicle break-in reports. Between April 6 and April 11, 2019, JPD took 18 vehicle break in reports and 3 building/structure break in reports – seven of which involved the theft of a firearm.
Break-ins were also happening in Paragould, too. It led to Detective Jacob Higdon from the Paragould Police Department to contact Detectives Josh Wiiest and Joe Robinson with JPD. Det. Higdon was aware of a suspect name JPD needed: Joseph Tongusi. Not only that, but Higdon was in possession of a warrant for his arrest.
Det. Wiiest asked JPD Investigator Erik Johnson for assistance in locating Tongusi. Later that day, Johnson made contact with the suspect at 611 Gant and Tongusi was arrested. Police say he was in possession of meth and a needle in his pocket as well as a handgun within reach in his vehicle that was soon identified as having just been stolen.
The suspect was transported to CCDC, the car was seized, a warrant was obtained, and the vehicle was searched. Authorities identified numerous items from PPD and JPD cases. Several victims were contacted and property was recovered and returned.
Through further investigation, Wiiest developed a second suspect in the cases, Richard Tippen, who was also found to have a felony warrant out of Craighead County. Tippen was located the next day, also at 611 Gant. He was brought to the Jonesboro Police Department, interviewed, and admitted to numerous break ins in the same areas and time frames as Tongusi, police said.
Numerous other items were located in the vehicle that do not have correlating reports from JPD or PPD. The suspects admitted to breaking into numerous vehicles in the same time frame and area as previous reports.
If you are missing property, or if your vehicle was broken into, JPD encourages you to file a report.
Both of the suspects have been arrested and will be charged with 18 vehicle break ins as well as 3 structure break ins. They each had a temporary bond of $250,000 set and will attend a Probable Cause hearing Monday afternoon.