‘Serial burglar’ hits two Eastern Kentucky businesses

Weekday broadcast of WYMT Mountain News at 11
Published: Jan. 11, 2023 at 6:43 PM EST
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PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) - The Pikeville Police Department arrested a man accused of burglarizing two Pikeville businesses.

“When people call us for these burglaries, we don’t just want to show up on scene, take notes, and do a report. We want to solve it,” said Pikeville PD Lt. Chad Branham. “Like the kids say, we want to put the ‘bad guy’ in jail.”

On Jan. 7, police said James Prater of Martin, used a crowbar to try to pry open the door to Funtime Inflatables. After several unsuccessful attempts, he used the crowbar to bust the glass.

Once inside, Prater is said to have stolen three cash registers, each with $200 inside, broke arcade machines and stole cash out of the cash boxes.

A police citation states the owner of the business estimated several hundred dollars in change in the cash boxes. Prater left the arcade machines damaged and stole candy, food, and rolls of change.

A couple of days later on Jan. 10, Prater broke into Riverfill 10 Cinemas, also using a crowbar and driving the same SUV from the previous burglary.

“We noticed a very similar method of operation. And we were also able to obtain video footage evidence that linked the two together,” said Branham.

Officers said Prater stole items from behind the counter before he went upstairs and ripped a safe out of a wall. He put the safe into a garbage can and rolled it outside where he loaded it into the SUV.

“This is not a victimless crime. These are local businesses. These are two local businesses. And he damaged those and he stole form them and he put hardship on them,” said Branham. “We wanted to make sure they got justice for what was done.”

In 2016, Prater faced charges for burglarizing two businesses in South Charleston, W.Va.

“He is what I would refer to almost as a serial burglar. We’ve dealt with situations like that numerous times in the past. And the burglaries, they don’t stop until the case is solved,” said Branham.

Branham said Pikeville Police Detective Bruce Collins, Kentucky State Police Sgt. Jeremy Giles, and Floyd County deputy Kevin Johnson were integral pieces of the investigation.