Two Charged in Break-Ins

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Early Wednesday morning, Lauderdale County deputies responded to an alarm call at the Community Bank on Highway 39 North at Old Country Club Drive. When they arrived, they discovered two men who were allegedly trying to break into the banks ATM with a blow torch.

"We got there and one was hiding behind a car and fled, while the other one we were able to apprehend at the scene," said Sheriff Billy Sollie.

Authorities also recovered a large sum of money, including a five gallon bucket of change.

Michael Lee Bennett is charged with two burglaries at both the bank and Structural Steel.

Marshall McClendon turned himself in early Wednesday evening. He faces outstanding warrants for motor vehicle theft, burglary, and felony vandalism.

After further investigation, officials say they were able to trace the full path of the two men, which started at Structural Steel where a truck, tools, VCR and TV were taken and a vending machine vandalized at the site.

"The two men then went and broke into vending machines at the soccer complex, at northeast ball fields, Northeast Middle School and Meridian High School," Sollie said.

Authorities say the suspects caused substantial damage to all of the machines they broke into, including the one at the bank where they used a blow torch to break in but made away with nothing.

There is no final estimate as to how much money was taken from the vending machines, but authorities are saying as far as overall damage done it is well into the thousands.

"I don't understand why anyone would do such a thing, especially to a school. We use those machines for fundraisers," said principal Richard Kelly of Northeast Middle School.