By WRCB Staff

DALTON, WHITFIELD COUNTY, GA (WRCB) -- The Dalton Police Department has charged five men in connection with a string of at least five burglaries within Dalton.

The five are also believed to be connected to at least six burglaries being investigated by the Whitfield County Sheriff's Office, including a burglary in which a family's Christmas presents and puppy were taken from their home on Bear Den Court.

The Dalton Police Department has charged Randall Shropshire, 17, and Nichalous Payton, 18, with one count each of burglary. Jimmy Betancourt, 22, was charged by the Dalton Police with three counts of burglary and six counts of theft by receiving stolen property. Eric Hunter, 17, was charged with one count of burglary.

The Dalton Police Department also has two active warrants for the arrest of Michael Austin, 23, of 1014 Dozier Street on charges of theft by receiving and making false statements to a law enforcement officer.

Investigators initially began to suspect the group after a patrol officer saw them in the area near Virginia Avenue shortly after a burglary occurred there on January 4th. After speaking to them a patrol officer took down their contact information.

Over the course of the following weeks, detectives interviewed the men and determined that they were involved with the burglary and others in the area. Some of the property stolen in the burglaries has been recovered and returned to the owners.

Shropshire and Payton were charged on January 7th. Betancourt was charged on January 12th, and Hunter was charged on January 15th.

These incidents are still being investigated by detectives from the Dalton Police Department and Whitfield County Sheriff's Office, and more charges are possible. Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Michael Austin is asked to please contact Detective Brandon Carter at 706-278-9085.