HOLMES COUNTY - The Holmes County Sheriff's Office arrested a former Chipley resident Nov. 30 in connection with the October theft of more than $250,000 in cash and firearms from a Highway 171 residence.
The arrest comes after a two-month long investigation led to law enforcement first to South Florida and then to Geneva, Alabama where Billy Ray Dreblow, Sr. was identified as a person of interest in the case.
The investigation first began when deputies were dispatched Oct. 5 to a home located at 1133 Highway 171 in Holmes County in reference to a burglary. The complainant reported someone had broken into the home and stolen a gun safe containing several weapons and more than $200,000 in cash.
After Dreblow was identified as a possible suspect, investigators began looking into the suspect's financial records and interviewing individuals who knew him, reportedly learning Dreblow, who had previously been living in a rental home in Chipley and "barely making rent," had used cash to purchase a home in Geneva, as well as multiple vehicles in the weeks since the crime occurred. Investigators also state Dreblow knew the victim and had prior knowledge the victim kept large amounts of cash in his home.
Investigators served search warrants Thursday at two Geneva homes, including Dreblow's, where $7,500 in cash was confiscated, as well as approximately $25,000 worth of merchandise for which receipts in the home showed had been purchased since the burglary.
Holmes County Sheriff John Tate states Dreblow's assets and bank accounts have been frozen, and the sheriff's office is in the process of having a lien placed on Dreblow's home in an effort to help recover money lost by the victim.
"We are still in the early stages of the investigation, but I want to thank the investigators for their hard work, as well as those in the community who have called in tips," said Sheriff Tate. "Meanwhile, if anyone has purchased any weapons or merchandise from [Dreblow], we ask that they contact the sheriff's office. I also would like to thank the Geneva Police Department and Geneva Police Chief Tony Clemmons for their assistance in this case."
Sheriff Tate says more arrests are expected to be made in the case.
Dreblow is currently being held in the Geneva County Jail on charges of receiving stolen property. He is awaiting extradition to Holmes County, where initial charges include armed burglary, dealing in stolen property, grand theft, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.