Richland detectives find suspect in string of area robberies

The Mansfield News-Journal is reporting that a man who, after being found guilty of two fifth-degree felony counts in connection with robberies at Puffs Cigarette and Tobacco store, 855 Lexington Ave. on March 3 and was sentenced 11 months in prison, is suspected in a string of recent break-ins at area small businesses, was arrested Monday at 10:30 a.m. at 293 Superior Ave.

From the story:

    "[Ryan Nichols] was given concurrent 11-month sentences and released to get his affairs in order (by Judge James Henson)," said Richland County Assistant Prosecutor Bambi Couch-Page. "He was ordered to report to the sheriff's office at 7:30 a.m. on March 7."

    Nichols never reported to jail. According to detectives, he has been back at his old tricks. He is suspected of several recent burglaries, including ones at Washington Floors, the Western Shop, Richland Lumber and two service stations.

    Deputies and Mansfield police have been looking for him for weeks. They didn't know if Nichols was armed Monday morning, but they didn't take chances.

    "We had to go in there with our guns drawn to arrest this guy again," sheriff's Detective Bob Mack said. "It's dangerous."

    He said it's also frustrating. "This guy was already convicted. He should have been in jail."br>

    Dave Beach, who owns the Puffs store previously targeted by Nichols, agreed.

    "They sentenced him to prison, but gave him time to get his affairs in order," Beach said. "I don't understand that. He didn't go to jail and went back to breaking into other places. What has to happen to keep these people in jail?"

The newspaper states that according to Richland County Prosecutor Bambi Couch-Page, the judgment entry in the case specified that if Nichols didn't report as ordered to begin his prison term, his sentence would be changed to consecutive one-year terms on each felony.

"We'll also file charges for failure to appear," she told the News Journal. But she said she's not sure how the agreement was reached to let Nichols out after his conviction. Henson didn't return a call for comment.

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