A van stolen from a Washington church has been recovered, thanks to the wide reach of social media.
Charges have been filed in Franklin County Associate Circuit Court against William E. Johnson for stealing the van from First Christian Church earlier this week. Johnson, 44, is facing felony charges for stealing a motor vehicle, second-degree burglary and stealing of items valued at $25,000 or more.
Johnson is not in custody. He was last seen in the Farmington area. Washington police said he is considered homeless and court documents list his last known address as St. Clair.
The van was recovered Monday night by Farmington police in a Walmart parking lot. Earlier in the day Washington police posted a picture of the missing van on its Facebook page. The post had been shared more than 900 times as of Thursday afternoon.
One woman who saw the post spotted the van next to her in the Walmart lot at around 8 p.m. Monday. She verified the van in the lot was the missing van and called Farmington police.
Officers arrived and secured the van. It was towed to a secure location for processing.
On Tuesday, Washington Police Detective Betsey Schulze drove to Farmington and checked out the van and surveillance video from Walmart. She said she recognized the driver of the van as Johnson.
Johnson was inside the store shopping. He was seen leaving the store and, after spotting the van surrounded by police, left the area.
Washington police began investigating the theft early Monday. Officers were called to the church, located at 6890 Highway 100 near Highway KK, at 8:42 a.m. Monday for the report of a 15-passenger Ford van, box trailer and several other items missing.
Both the van and box trailer, each marked with the church’s logo on the side, were noticed missing earlier Monday morning. Police also discovered a zero-turn radius mower also was missing. Electronic items from inside the church were also missing, police said. There was no sign of forced entry.
Schulze said many of the electronics were discovered inside the van. Police also found several other items the church didn’t know it was missing.
The box trailer and mower are still missing, Schulze said.