A St. Clair man is accused of breaking into a residence Friday, April 5, and then crashing a car resulting in evidence of the alleged crime to catch fire. 

Perry J. Crawford, 28, was charged Monday in Franklin County Associate Circuit Court with second-degree burglary. He is being held in the Franklin County Jail on a $50,000 cash-only bond. 

In 2014 Crawford was accused of stealing a pickup that investigators later found on fire. 

According to the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, Crawford called 911 about 4:58 a.m. April 5 stating his vehicle was on fire in the 3000 block of Aitch Road outside of Union. 

Deputies responded to assist fire crews. At the scene, Crawford said the car was stuck in the mud and then caught fire.

A fireman directed a deputy to a pile of tools approximately 10 yards from the burnt vehicle.  

Authorities said serial numbers on the tools matched those taken from a residence on Highway AH that had been reported a short time earlier. The burglary occurred in close proximity to the car crash location.

The burglary victim gave a description of the items he was missing which matched the items located near the burnt vehicle, the sheriff’s office said. 

Crawford claimed he had no information about the tools, although one of the boxes containing tools had been melted from the vehicle fire and more identifiable tools were located in Crawford’s possession, authorities allege.

Sheriff Steve Pelton commended the fire department for their assistance at the scene.

Previous Charge

In 2014, Crawford was accused of a similar incident where he allegedly stole a truck that was later found on fire.

In that case, he was charged in a Franklin County felony complaint with second-degree domestic assault and felony stealing for allegedly threatening several people with a knife and with stealing the pickup truck, authorities said.

According to reports, Crawford had been at the home earlier and left with a friend to go to Walmart. While Crawford was inside the store, the friend passed out in the car on the parking lot and was arrested by Sullivan police on outstanding felony charges.

Crawford allegedly returned to his home in a pickup truck and an argument broke out after he said he had stolen the truck. The argument escalated and that led to Crawford threatening other people with the knife, according to reports.

The suspect then left in the pickup truck and returned on foot before the deputy arrived, authorities said.

Investigators later found the truck on fire in a wooded area off the South Interstate 44 Service Road. It had been stolen from the VFW Hall on Highway 185, outside the Sullivan city limits.

Crawford has had several other prior criminal charges.

In 2017, he was charged with first-degree tampering with a motor vehicle, a felony, and a misdemeanor of trespassing. During that incident he was accused of operating an Ameren Missouri utility vehicle inside an enclosed parking lot owned by the company.

Gerald police responded to the Ameren facility on West Springfield Avenue for a report of trespassing. Crawford fled on foot when police arrived on the scene, authorities allege. He was arrested a short time later at a residence in Pear Tree trailer court.