Police arrest key suspect believed to be responsible for smash and grab business burglaries

Published: Dec. 1, 2022 at 10:14 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 2, 2022 at 2:07 PM CST
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ST. LOUIS (KMOV) -- An alleged smash-and-grab robber has been arrested and linked to numerous business burglaries across the Metro.

Zavion McGee, 18, is charged with two counts of second-degree burglary, two counts of second-degree property damage, one count of stealing over $750 and one count of stealing a controlled substance. The charges are tied to two burglaries.

“Hopefully, we can get some prosecution against them as well,” says Brandi Artis, owner of Simply Delicious.

St. Louis Metropolitan Police tell News 4 McGee is connected to a group responsible for breaking into and stealing from dozens of local shops and stores.

“We had to come out of pocket for our window. They stole about $1,000 in cash from us,” says Artis.

Thieves destroyed the front windows of the Pine Street restaurant, Simply Delicious, in October and also broke into the neighboring sneaker store, 39 Castles.

Store surveillance cameras caught the crooks swiping boxes of shoes in seconds.

“We were really stacking up preparing for Black Friday weekend to really put on a show for everyone, and that’s where a lot of product was taken,” says 39 Castles owner Darryl Jones. “When people are hungry, they are going to find a place to eat, and we happened to be on the table that day.”

“They took our sense of security. They took our pride away because our storefront doesn’t look as beautiful as it should,” says Artis.

While investigators work to identify all the suspects involved in the smash-and-grab robberies, 64 businesses have been hit in the past month.

Burglars are also responsible for breaking into Steve’s Hot Dogs near Tower Grove and destroying the front window. Surveillance video captured the thieves trying to steal from the cash register.

“I’ve seen some break-ins over the years but nothing like this,” says Steve Ewing, owner of Steve’s Hot Dogs.

SLMPD said it is working to figure out how many robberies McGee is connected to that could lead to dismantling the entire criminal operation.

“I’m happy about that. Everyone can feel comfortable about not having to worry about getting their stuff broken into. It’s great for all the businesses around St. Louis,” says Ewing.

McGee was also indicted on federal drug and gun charges. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Missouri alleges McGee was in a vehicle that crashed after fleeing from police on October 29. The indictment says he had multiple guns near him, and that police found meth and fentanyl in the vehicle.

Authorities also found suspected fentanyl, meth and heroin in his home while serving a warrant Tuesday, the attorney’s office said. A fully-automatic Glock handgun and $8,000 in cash were also found.

Prosecutors allege McGee was going to sell the drugs, charging him with possession with the intent to distribute them. He is also charged with having a gun in furtherance of a crime.