Ash Flat police charged a Hardy man with theft after police located more than $2,200 worth of tools in his possession July 9.
A city resident contacted Ash Flat Police Chief Mike Zeiger July 9 and informed him that her cellular phone and car keys were taken from the hood of her car the night before. The woman said Steven Carroll and another man came to her home around 10:30 p.m. and asked if another man lived at the home, the affidavit said. When the woman told him no, the two men left the house. Moments later she noticed the items missing from the hood of her car which was parked in front of the home.
Zeiger then performed a record check on Carroll and learned he was on probation in Sharp County. Probation Officer Amy Wiles was informed of the situation and went with Zeiger to a travel trailer on Tuff Street where Carroll was thought to be living.
When Zeiger and Wiles arrived they could hear music coming from the trailer and people moving around inside but no one answered the door for approximately three minutes despite Zeiger knocking several times and announcing "police department," the police report said.
When the door finally opened it was Merriam who answered. He told Zeiger Carroll wasn't at the trailer but would be back in a few hours, the affidavit said.
Wiles, who is also Merriam's probation officer, then told Merriam he would have to take a urine drug test for her. After Merriam and Wiles went inside, Wiles soon called for Zeiger to come inside the trailer.
"As (I) entered the trailer I could see Carroll in the hallway," Zeiger said. "I told Carroll hi and told Merriam, 'I thought Steve wasn't here.' Merriam stated 'I didn't know he was in the bathroom.'"
Zeiger then took Carroll outside, read him his rights and asked him about the theft of the cellular phone and car keys from the woman the night before, the affidavit said. Carroll said he was at the home but didn't steal anything, the affidavit said.
"Wiles then called me back into the trailer where she pointed to a coffee table and in plain view was a partially smoked marijuana cigarette and rolling papers ... I then looked to the right of the door and in plain view on the benches around the kitchen table were tools, air compressor and welding torches that I had taken a theft report on this same morning from Gary Fowler," Zeiger said.
Fowler reported an air compressor, welding torches, cordless drills, lights and chargers stolen from his home.
Carroll told Zeiger the tools were those he uses for work, the report said. Zeiger then told Carroll he was under arrest for felony theft of property.
"Carroll yelled at Merriam and stated, 'Man, I'm on parole. You need to take responsibility for your part. They will send me to the penitentiary,'" Zeiger said.
Merriam then told Zeiger he was taking responsibility for the stolen property, the report said. Zeiger then took the handcuffs off Carroll and told Merriam he was under arrest for the felony charge instead.
Merriam told Zeiger he didn't steal the tools but instead traded some other tools for them; however, he would not tell Zeiger who he traded the tools with or any details about the theft, the affidavit said.
Zeiger then told Carroll he thought he knew who stole the phone and keys. While Carroll continued to deny taking the keys he told Zeiger he thought he might know who had the items, the report said. He said he would get back with Zeiger the following day.
Merriam was then transported to the Sharp County Jail.
Zeiger then had a city employee to come to the trailer with a truck to haul the property back to the police department where they were inventoried. The stolen tools were returned to Fowler July 10.
Carroll contacted Zeiger the next day and said he had found the cellular phone that had been reported stolen the day before. He said a woman pulled up to his home in a minivan with the phone and had someone give it to him, Zeiger said. Carroll said he didn't know the whereabouts of the stolen car keys.
When the owner of the cellular phone came to the police department July 11 to retrieve her phone she said a Weed Eater inside Zeiger's office was also stolen from her home, Zeiger said. She said a friend had left it at her home. She took the Weed Eater and said she would get it back to its rightful owner, he said.