Folly suspect tied to Pawleys theft

Rion

A 28-year-old woman who confessed to breaking into the Folly Beach post office Saturday night also was linked to a mail theft in Pawleys Island, according to federal officials.

Sarah Caroline Rion of Greenfield Road in Pawleys Island was arrested Monday on a charge of second-degree burglary. The count is a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

Rion also will likely face several counts of mail theft, a federal offense that can carry a penalty of three to five years in prison and $250,000 in fines.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office will review the possible federal cases against Rion in Folly Beach and in a theft of mail at a Pawleys Island post office earlier this year.

Steve Stebbins, resident agent in charge for postal inspectors in South Carolina, said that on Jan. 14, a woman at the Pawleys Island location stuck her arm through an opened mailbox and reached into the back opening of other boxes.

Investigators were able to connect that incident and the Folly Beach break-in to Rion, Stebbins said.

“It’s rare that a post office box is actually broken into,” he said. “Usually, multiple incidents are part of an organized ring, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here.”

Federal investigators think Rion acted alone, and they have no other suspects, according to Harry Spratlin, a Postal Service spokesman in Columbia.

In Folly Beach, video cameras recorded someone entering the building at 107 E. Indian Ave. around 9 p.m. Saturday and breaking into several mailboxes, according to Rion’s arrest affidavit. A burglar used a screwdriver to pop the locks on about 10 boxes, Stebbins said.

On Monday, after investigators viewed that video, Rion went to the Folly Beach Public Safety station to report a lost or stolen driver’s license. She was questioned about the break-in and signed a written confession, according to the affidavit. “She came in to report a theft of her own,” said Dennis Brown, chief of the city’s police force. “The officers who handled that incident ... were able to recognize her.”

The only valuable item that Rion stole, she told the police, was a $25 money order. Magistrate Linda Lombard set Rion’s bail at $25,000 during a hearing Tuesday morning.

Rion has other felony charges on her record, according to the State Law Enforcement Division. Georgetown County deputies arrested her in early March on counts of safecracking and grand larceny of more than $10,000.

That case is still pending, according to court records.

Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or twitter.com/offlede.