Two charged in multi-county crime spree

GENESEE COUNTY — The Genesee County Prosecutor’s Office has charged two men with eight felony warrants stemming from their involvement with a multi-county crime spree.

Edward Thornton Jr. and Zachary Cross have been accused of leading a massive theft ring that spanned Genesee, Oakland and Tuscola counties since February. Police said that the suspects orchestrated the thefts of catalytic convertors, copper wiring, lawnmowers and off-road vehicles, then attempted to sell the equipment to finance drug-related activities.

Interim Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson said that a custom collision garage, a pool and spa showroom and a Tractor Supply Company store in Vienna Township were among the commercial businesses that were robbed during the spree.

Thornton and Cross also hit residences in multiple local communities, including Flint, Linden, Flushing, Grand Blanc, Burton, Fenton Township and Mt. Morris Township. At least 10 local police departments were involved in a three-month investigation of the theft ring.

The Genesee County Sheriff’s Office, in tandem with the City of Clio and Mt. Morris Township police departments, arrested Thornton and Cross on May 3.

“They started out stealing pallets and catalytic converters,” Swanson said. “Next thing you know, they are stealing trailers (and) all kinds of things. And we (caught) them with $50,000 to $100,000 worth of stolen property.”

Swanson said that the theft ring bust would not have been made possible without the coordination of police departments across three counties.

“It takes multiple agencies, a lot of good police work, a little bit of luck and a great prosecutor who’s aggressive and writes these warrants to hold people accountable,” Swanson said.