UPDATE: Suspect arrested in "largest theft ring in a decade"
Bradley County Sheriff's Office deputies responded to a theft in progress call, in which a caller provided the responding officers a description of the vehicle, as well as a tag number.
Tuesday, October 28th 2014, 11:37 am EDT by
Tuesday, October 28th 2014, 6:41 pm EDT
: In what Bradley County Sheriff Eric Watson is calling the largest theft and burglary ring in a decade," one person has been arrested in connection with nearly 100 thefts in Bradley and Polk Counties.
Arrested was Coty Shane Hardman, 23, of Cleveland, who was taken into custody on warrants for failure to appear in Bradley County General Sessions Court.
On Sunday, October 19, Bradley County Sheriff's Office deputies responded to a theft in progress call. The caller gave officers a description of the vehicle and a tag number.
One of occupants of the vehicle was Hardman.
Officers also found property in the vehicle that had been reported as stolen from Hickory Top Drive earlier that same day. The property recovered was a Stihl Backpack Blower and a Husqvarna gasoline hedge trimmer.
Further investigation revealed Hardman was involved in many thefts and burglaries in the Bradley County and Polk County areas.
"They would stalk your home and find out what time you'd be gone, then they'd come back the next and hit you when you're gone," said Sheriff Watson.
Bradley County officers visited several locations where Hardman had sold stolen items, mostly brand-name power tools.
Investigators were able to match the items to current burglary and theft reports, as well as other locations that had not been reported.
The Bradley County Sheriff's Office was able to identify nearly 100 locations where burglaries and/or thefts occurred..
"I know the citizens are excited," said Polk County Sheriff Steve Ross. "Anytime, 6-8 months later, you call and tell them you've located their stuff, they're glad to get that phone call. And we're trying to locate a couple of them who've moved on us."
Investigators plan for more arrests soon.
District Attorney Steve Crump said he's also thinking of prosecuting some of the people who bought these stolen items from the suspects.