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Two men were arrested in a Bluffton hotel room amid a trove of stolen goods Saturday, ending a spree of burglaries and car break-ins that began in their home state of Tennessee, local authorities say.
Anthony Wayne Sturm, 36, and Christopher Chad Sayne, 34, were charged by the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office after a victim of a Bluffton car break-in alerted deputies to the suspect's whereabouts.
Earlier on Saturday, deputies had responded to two car break-ins at the Suburban Lodge and one at Club Car of Hilton Head on Fording Island Road. In all three car break-ins, windows were smashed, and the thieves made off with items worth a total of $2,000.
At about 8 p.m. Saturday, a caller told deputies he had been walking from his car to the hotel lobby when he noticed that a man had dropped an iPad in the parking lot. It was the same iPad he had reported stolen from his car earlier in the day, according to the release.
Rather than confront the man, the victim handed the iPad back to the suspect, who was struggling to carry several things. The victim took note of the suspect's vehicle and called deputies.
Sturm and Sayne refused to let the deputies into their room. The deputies got a search warrant and found guns, electronics, jewelry, drugs and items confirmed to have been stolen in break-ins in Tennessee and in the Bluffton area, the Sheriff's Office said.
Investigators still have many items to go through to determine where they came from, said Sgt. Robin McIntosh.
"They have a lot of property that has not been identified in connection with any known break-ins or burglaries, and of course, there is always the possibility that some of the thefts have gone unreported," she said. "And having also found pawn slips among the property they recovered, there's still a possibility of other agencies making further recoveries."
Both men were charged with receiving stolen goods, three counts of breaking into a motor vehicle, simple possession of marijuana and possession of prescription narcotics. More charges could follow after investigators finish sorting through and identifying the stolen items.
Sturm's bond is $45,620, and Sayne's is $40,620 bond, according to the Beaufort County Detention Center.
The victim who turned them in instead of confronting them made "a very smart move," McIntosh said.
"Fortunately, by showing incredible restraint and being quick to notify us, the victim gave us the opportunity to address these incidents safely. No fleeing suspects, no manhunt, and the property was all right there in the hotel room."