The man some people know as “Crazy Bob” said he always tries to help police officers investigating the theft of electronics and jewelry — the same items his North Charleston shop buys, repairs and resells.
But 54-year-old Robert Bertino is now facing 13 counts of possessing stolen goods valued at less than $2,000 after authorities investigating a rash of burglaries in Dorchester County raided his store last week.
“I’m totally upset about it,” Bertino said about his arrest Friday. “I’m an open book. Any time (the police) need information, they can come and see me.”
When asked about what the police might have found in his Crazy Bob’s Electronics store at 8410 Rivers Ave., Bertino said, “I probably don’t want to comment anymore.”
He hung up.
Bertino has been arrested once before in South Carolina, according to the State Law Enforcement Division. In June 2004, he faced a felony charge of threatening the life of a public official, but the count was dismissed during a preliminary hearing, according to court records.
Bertino was back in his store Tuesday after a brief stay in the Charleston County jail.
He had been released on bail Saturday.
North Charleston Police Department spokesman Spencer Pryor said detectives found items in his shop that had been stolen from three houses in the city since January.
But his arrest stemmed from a probe started by the Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office, which had been looking into more than 20 burglaries in its jurisdiction since last year.
The Sheriff’s Office announced this week that seven young men and a boy, many of whom attend Fort Dorchester High School, had been implicated in a “burglary ring.”
Sheriff’s investigators managed to crack that case with help from the Archdale community, which was targeted during the spree. After a break-in in early March, a resident who was watching for suspicious activity noticed some young men carrying suitcases down a street, sheriff’s Lt. Tony Phinney said.
The resident’s description of the men matched the men another resident photographed as they snooped in a backyard, Phinney said. Investigators used the photo to identify some suspects, who led to more suspects, the lieutenant said.
“It all started to unravel from there, and everything started pointing to this same group,” Phinney said. “The patrol division, the detectives and the community came together, and we finally got a break.”
The effort to find items stolen from the homes led to the search of Bertino’s store Friday, when the North Charleston police opened their own investigation. Pryor said detectives linked some of Bertino’s goods to three burglaries in which nearly $40,000 worth of jewelry and electronics was taken. A summary of those incidents, all of which were in the Dorchester County portion of the city:
On Jan. 16, a resident of Habersham Lane reported that his back door had been forced in. An Apple iMac computer worth $2,000 was missing.
On March 1, a Gellatin Lane man told police that he returned home to find his back door had been kicked in. Laptops, iPhones, iPods and watches were taken. The value of the items totaled $14,900, according to an incident report. The victim said he was an electronics salesman.
Then on March 5, a woman coming home from work found that the front door to her Copley Circle home had been broken. About $21,800 in jewelry, laptops, liquor and gaming systems was missing.
It was unclear how many of the items were recovered in Bertino’s store.
Bertino’s website states that the business pays cash for gold jewelry and old electronics. The store also offers computer repair services and items for sale on eBay. He made headlines in December 2011 when he said he confronted a robber armed with a shotgun. He foiled the attempt by putting the robber in a headlock.