Man with a history of vandalism arrested
HOT SPRINGS — A man with a history of vandalism who is on probation from a suspended sentence in July involving broken windows was arrested again Thursday after an investigation into numerous shattered windows in downtown Hot Springs businesses early Sunday.
Robert Thompson Jr., 35, who is reportedly homeless and deaf, was taken into custody about 5 p.m. and charged with one count of first-degree criminal mischief, punishable by up to six years in prison. He was being held on a $40,000 bond.
Thompson was last convicted July 3 after pleading guilty in Garland County Circuit Court to six counts of criminal mischief, including two felony counts and four misdemeanor counts, all involving damage to businesses and vehicles. He was sentenced to nine years in prison and five years in prison, all suspended, on the felonies and one year in jail on each of the misdemeanor counts with credit for time served, so he was released. He was also ordered to pay $7,654 in restitution in the form of a civil judgment.
According to the probable cause affidavit on Thursday’s arrest, on Sunday, Hot Springs police received multiple reports about damage to windows between the 200 and 800 blocks of Central Avenue, including at Regions Bank, Renee’s, Buffalo Clothing Co., Hot Springs Hemp Co., Beef Jerky Outlet and Tater Tots Kids Fashion and Fun.
Video was obtained from the bank building showing a rock thrown through the front window, but the time stamp in the video could not be confirmed as accurate by employees. In the background of the video, what appears to be “a white towel swinging” was visible.
Video was also obtained from Deluca’s Pizza, Buffalo Clothing Co. and Tater Tots. The video from Deluca’s shows that at around 2:22 a.m. Sunday, a man with what appears to be a white towel draped over his shoulder walking with what appears to be a large metal pipe, police said.
The video shows the man twice throwing the pipe into the building at Tater Tots and then toward a car parked in the back alley.
The footage from Buffalo Clothing Co. shows the same man with what appears to be the same pipe breaking out the glass to the front of the business at 3:07 a.m. Sunday, police said.
The damage estimates reported included $35,000 at the Regions Bank building, $3,000 at Renee’s, $1,500 at the Buffalo Clothing Co., $500 at Hot Springs Hemp Co. and $3,000 at the Beef Jerky Outlet.
On Wednesday, police Cpl. Tyler Ward saw a man who appeared to be the one from the security videos walking in the area of the Hot Springs Convention Center, police said.
Ward identified the man as Thompson and took a photo of him, which confirmed he was in similar clothing as that seen in the videos, police said.
Thompson was previously arrested Sept. 13, 2019, and charged with a felony count of first-degree criminal mischief after breaking two large windows at the Hot Springs Convention Center and cutting the center’s flagpole ropes. He also caused damages at Spencer’s Corner, Picante’s, Enterprise Car Rental, Steinhaus Keller and the Maxwell Blade Theatre.
Thompson pleaded no contest to an amended misdemeanor charge of criminal mischief in district court on Nov. 8, 2019, via an interpreter and was sentenced to one year in jail, with all but 110 days suspended, and ordered to pay $6,277 in restitution.
Thompson previously pleaded no contest on Aug. 28, 2012, in District Court to a misdemeanor charge of criminal mischief and was sentenced to one year in jail, with all of it suspended except for 36 days, and he was ordered to pay $880 in restitution to the convention center.