Myrtle Beach man sentenced to three years in prison in rash of vehicle break-ins

A Myrtle Beach man charged in a rash of vehicle break-ins during the summer at beach accesses and amusement attractions pleaded guilty to the charges and was sentenced to three years in prison, according to court records.

Clifford Ray Dotson, 34, pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a weapon, financial transaction card theft and four counts of breaking into motor vehicles and Circuit Court Judge Edward Cottingham sentenced him to three years in prison on each count. The sentences will run concurrently and Dotson was given credit for time served since he was arrested in August.

Dotson has been held at J. Reuben Long Detention Center on $268,500 bail, according to jail records. He was originally charged with three counts of grand larceny with a value of $2,000 to $10,000; 17 counts of breaking into a motor vehicle; 10 counts of financial transaction card theft; three counts of possession of a controlled substance; and the gun possession charge.

Horry County police arrested Dotson in August after an officer found him passed out in a vehicle and police connected him to the string of vehicle break-ins in the Surfside Beach, Myrtle Beach and Horry County jurisdictions.

Before Dotson’s arrest Surfside Beach police investigators had obtained warrants for his arrest, after they posted undercover officers in the affected areas and searched for the stolen merchandise in area pawn shops and flea markets, but they had been unable to locate him, police said.

After Dotson’s arrest, investigators located additional witnesses and evidence, and obtained a search warrant for a Socastee residence on Holmestown Road near S.C. 707 where Dotson had stayed in the past, the report said. Inside the home, police seized stolen items worth thousands of dollars, including digital cameras, smart phones and electronic equipment.