The man linked to over 30 theft and burglary cases in Franklin and Jefferson counties was again taken into custody last week following a foot pursuit in the Dittmer area.
Steven Stotts Jr., 35, of Dittmer, was arrested Thursday night near Highway 30 and Dittmer Road about 5 miles east of the Franklin County line.
According to Capt. Gary Higginbotham with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s office, Stotts was at an acquaintance’s house on Highway NN and fled on foot to a neighboring home. He then ran to the area of Dittmer Road and ran into a wooded area,
Higginbotham said law enforcement officers canvassed the area and located Stotts.
Stotts is wanted in Franklin County for a crime spree through August that extended in September. During that period he stole multiple utility vehicles from Jim Trenaray Motor Sports, Washington, two Humvees from the Labadie area and broke into storage units and residences along the Highway 30 corridor.
He is being held on a previous charge in Jefferson County without bond.
Stotts initially was charged Aug. 22 in Franklin County Associate Circuit Court with stealing a motor vehicle and second-degree burglary, both felonies. Prosecutors requested a $25,000 bond, which was reduced to $15,000 Aug. 24.
A warrant was issued for Stotts’ arrest Tuesday, Sept. 5, on additional felony charges of second-degree burglary and stealing. Prosecutors requested a $30,000 cash-only bond.
Since early August, Stotts allegedly stole more than $200,000 worth of vehicles, firearms and other property.
Labor Day Weekend
According to the Franklin County Sheriff’s office, deputies were notified Sunday, Sept. 3, that two H1-style refurbished Humvees were stolen from Midwest Military Equipment, Labadie.
A maroon Humvee was taken Saturday, Sept. 2, at approximately 10:30 p.m. and a gray Humvee was taken about 6:20 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 3.
During the investigation into the thefts, Stotts, who posted bond Friday, Sept. 1, was identified as a suspect.
On Sept. 3, a witness spotted the gray Humvee southbound on Highway N in the Lonedell area.
The vehicle was located approximately one-fourth of a mile into a wooded area. The suspect appeared to have fled on foot.
Later that night, deputies responded to a home on Highway 30 just west of the Franklin and Jefferson County line where a large white truck was being driven through a field.
Franklin County deputies located a white box truck stuck in the woods that had been abandoned. The truck had been reported stolen from a nearby residence.
On Monday, Sept. 4, a Franklin County deputy attempted to stop a Mazda truck on Highway 30 near Highway HH that was reported stolen earlier that morning in Jefferson County. The suspect abruptly stopped the vehicle and fled on foot south of Highway 30.
A collaborative effort of law enforcement agencies from Jefferson County, St. Louis County air support, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, and Franklin County deputies searched for the suspect for hours in a large heavily wooded area. Stotts was not located.
Prior to the weekend’s spree of vehicle thefts, Stotts has been connected to nine cases through August, according to investigators with the Franklin County sheriff’s office, including two thefts from Jim Trenary Motor Sports, Washington, and Triple H Storage in the Lonedell area.
Many of the items were sold to feed Stotts’ drug habit, authorities allege.
In some of the cases, Stotts drove stolen four-wheel utility vehicles to other burglary scenes.
Stotts was apprehended Tuesday, Aug. 22, for the theft of an aluminum trailer and seven side-by-side utility task vehicles (UTVs) from Jim Trenary Motor Sports Aug. 11.
The suspect also stole a motorcycle from the Washington business Aug. 3.
The UTVs range in value of up to $19,000.
Triple H Units
Stotts confessed to the vehicle thefts, as well as the burglary of Triple H Storage Aug. 8.
Detectives determined Stotts cut a hole in the fence to the Triple H Self Storage on Highway 30, east of Highway FF, and then cut the locks to 24 units. Reported missing were 22 guns, 10 flat screen TVs, tools, clothing and medication.
Twenty of the guns and many other items were recovered.
St. Clair Arrest
Stotts was arrested Aug. 13 during a burglary at Hoffmann’s Towing where St. Clair police were notified after he tripped an alarm. He was in possession of a ring of 17 keys to stolen vehicles. St. Clair police recovered a four-wheeler, truck radiator, light bar, bag of tools and a hedge trimmer, all allegedly stolen from the I-44 Truck Center earlier that night.
Stotts is on probation for a 2015 distribution charge in Warren County.
He also has pending charges in Jefferson County for tampering with a motor vehicle that occurred in August 2016, and burglary and possession of a controlled substance that occurred in December 2015.