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Counties work together in stolen-goods arrest

June 30, 2010
Cooperation between police officers in three counties resulted in the arrest of a Washington County man who now faces multiple charges in Harrison County.

The Crawford County Sheriff's Department received a call June 15 from a concerned Milltown area resident. The caller told Deputy Debbie Young that a suspicious man whom he did not know had stopped by his house in a maroon pickup truck and had tried to sell him several items that were in the bed of the truck.

Young said the man tried to sell four horse saddles, power tools, car ramps, a pressure washer, rototiller, floor jack and numerous other items, including scrap metal. The Milltown resident believed something was wrong when the man tried to sell him a cut-off saw for $20, which he knew was worth several times that amount. He also offered to sell the entire truckload of items for $230. The man then pulled out a handgun and asked for an offer for it.

The Milltown man told police he felt uneasy at that time and informed the person that he had a gun in his pocket. He told Young that he then had reason to believe that the items were stolen and that he wanted nothing to do with them. An elderly neighbor also was present and told the man to take his stuff and leave. He also told the man that he may want to consider taking the items to Gurtz's Auto Salvage and gave him directions to the business near Depauw.

After Young talked to the Milltown resident, she contacted law enforcement officials in Harrison County, told them about the incident and gave a description of the truck and other information. She also contacted officers in Washington and Orange counties to check on any thefts that may have taken place there which involved items like those seen in the truck.

After receiving the information from Young, Harrison County Officer David Million spotted the truck at Gurtz's Auto Salvage. When the officer approached the truck, he saw a handgun laying in the bed of the truck and called for backup. Within minutes, Officer Marty McClanahan arrived.

"When I arrived, there was a bag of dope laying on the ground near where the suspect was standing," McClanahan said. "We informed the man that we were going to take him in for questioning and, when I tried to put him in the car, he kicked the door and resisted. He was very combative, but we were able to subdue him, get him in the car and transport him to the Harrison County Jail."

The suspect was then identified as Matt Meace, 30, who is from the Hardinsburg area.

A search warrant was issued for the truck, and the items in the vehicle were inventoried with a description. McClanahan then made contact with officers in other counties and discovered that the pickup, a 1991 Chevrolet S-10, was stolen from a family in Washington County.

"We found one of the owners of the vehicle," McClanahan said. "She told us that her husband was in the hospital and that she was asleep at home when someone entered the house, took money and the keys to the truck from her purse and loaded several items from the house and an outbuilding into the truck and left."

After being given a description and name of the suspect, the woman told McClanahan that the family didn't really know the man, but that he had cut their grass before.

"I did a background check on the suspect and found that he had been in trouble in other states," McClanahan said.

"And the victims were able to identify the truck and other items that were in the suspect's possession. We were really blessed that Officer Million saw the handgun and called for backup. We were lucky that no one got hurt. And we were lucky to have gotten the tip from Officer Young in Crawford County. This ended up being a joint effort involving three counties."

Meace is being held in the Harrison County Jail, charged with possession of stolen property, possession of a stolen auto, possession of a stolen handgun, possession of a controlled substance, possession of marijuana, disorderly conduct, battery of a police officer and resisting law enforcement.

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