A Jefferson County man is in custody for a theft and burglary spree spanning two counties in which authorities say he stole in excess of $100,000 in vehicles, firearms and other property.
Steven D. Stotts Jr., 35, of Dittmer, was charged in Franklin County Associate Circuit Court with the initial felony charges of stealing a motor vehicle and second-degree burglary. He is being held in the Franklin County Jail on a $25,000 bond.
Stotts has been connected to nine cases, 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.
There are more charges pending against Stotts for multiple burglaries along the Highway 30 corridor in Franklin and Jefferson counties.
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. Authorities recovered five of the vehicles, but the trailer and two UTVs have not yet been located, authorities said.
The suspect also stole a motorcycle from the Washington business Aug. 3, which he allegedly took from the rear of the building during business hours.
The UTVs range in value of up to $19,000.
Stotts confessed to those crimes, 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 and stole multiple items. Reported missing were 22 guns, four bow and arrow sets, 10 flat screen TVs, tools, clothing and medication.
Some stolen property was recovered about one-quarter of a mile from the business on a flatbed trailer.
Twenty of the 22 guns and many other items were recovered in Franklin and Jefferson counties.
Stotts was arrested Aug. 13 during a burglary at Hoffmann’s towing where St. Clair police were notified after he tripped an alarm.
Stotts 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.
St. Clair police said Stotts had cut through the fence to the Hoffmann Towing property with a bolt cutter. He admitted to the thefts from the I-44 Truck Center and led police to the four-wheeler parked near Hoffmann’s.
He later admitted to county detectives that he burglarized multiple homes in the Lonedell area, as well as in St. Clair and in Jefferson County.
“Our guys did an outstanding job,” said Sheriff Steve Pelton. “It was good police work — I’m proud of that success.”
Pelton also applauded the work of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s office and St. Clair police.
“Their hard work, along with an observant citizen who first notified the sheriff’s office of suspicious activity via our Facebook page, made the identification and subsequent arrest of the suspect possible,” he said.
“Their assistance also helped recover much of the stolen property,” he added. “We deeply thank all involved in the positive outcome of these unfortunate events.”
Pelton noted that this arrest backs up his department’s policies on community involvement and use of social media.
“The proof is in the pudding,” he said.
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.
Additionally, he was charged in St. Louis County in 2016 for possession of drug paraphernalia.