A man with a string of Decatur Municipal Court convictions for actions from loitering to criminal trespass has been jailed by city authorities for the fourth time this year, and a local businesswoman said she's glad he's back in custody.
Gary Derall Peoples, 51, of 1903 Seventh St. S.E., is accused of breaking into a 2010 Nissan Versa and stealing a purse from it, according to the criminal complaint filed in Morgan County Circuit Court.
A victim in the 1800 block of Fifth Avenue Southwest told officers Aug. 19 that when she went outside her residence, she discovered that her purse had been stolen from her vehicle, police said.
According to an affidavit by Detective Jonathan Macklin, Peoples was identified after the officer reviewed camera footage from several gas stations in the area.
"Gary Peoples was developed as a primary suspect after video footage showed him entering the victim's vehicle and stealing her purse," Macklin wrote.
Officers located him Friday, took him to the Morgan County Jail and charged him with breaking and entering a vehicle, said Decatur police spokeswoman Emily Long. His bail was set at $50,000 by Morgan County Circuit Judge Jennifer Howell, and he remained in jail Tuesday afternoon, according to county jail records.
Peoples currently has two pending probation violation warrants for soliciting without a permit and third-degree criminal trespass, according to City of Decatur Municipal Court records.
Among his city convictions are loitering, on Aug. 10, 2016, and May 9, 2017; third-degree criminal trespass, on May 9, 2017; and soliciting without a permit, third-degree criminal trespass and loitering, on Feb. 12, 2019.
According to jail records, he was in custody on city charges from Nov. 3, 2018, to Feb. 12, 2019; April 26-28, 2019; and May 6, 2019, to July 11, 2019.
“The investigating officer requested a higher bond for Peoples, due to his rate of suspected criminal involvement within the community,” said Long said in an email.
Howell on Tuesday said the bail was set at $50,000 at the request of Decatur police and based on Peoples’ prior criminal history and information on the circumstances surrounding his arrest that was provided by police.
In her order, she included the notation, "high bond due to extensive criminal history."
Dwight Jett was appointed by the court as his attorney after Peoples filed an affidavit indicating he has no income and no assets. Peoples is scheduled for a preliminary hearing and a bond-reduction hearing on Sept. 11.
Court records also show charges for theft, burglary and breaking and entering of a vehicle dating back to 1995.
Christy Wheat, an owner of the restaurant Simp McGhee’s, said she’s been approached numerous times — either on the street, in a parking lot or at her business — by Peoples asking for money, in one case so he could get to his hospitalized wife. She’s heard others complain about similar incidents.
Most recently, while she was sitting at her computer at home on Aug. 17, her doorbell rang and when she approached the open wood front door, Peoples was standing at the glass door.
“I didn’t ask what he wanted,” Wheat said. “I slammed the wood door in his face.”
She said Peoples left, got into a maroon SUV parked directly across the street and drove off.
“It’s a problem,” Wheat said. “I’m glad to know he’s been arrested and he’s behind bars.”