Deputies make arrest in multi-state ATV theft operation - The Southeast Sun: News

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Deputies make arrest in multi-state ATV theft operation

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Posted: Monday, February 10, 2014 12:05 pm

In the early hours of Feb. 8, Coffee County Sheriff deputies made an arrest in a case involving the theft and resale of multiple all terrain vehicles (ATVs).

Levi Barnes, 25, of Opp, was arrested and charged with first-degree receiving stolen property, possession of a controlled substance (methamphetamine) and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Deputies and investigators were serving a search warrant for a residence on Coffee County Road 631 in the Goodman community when they found Barnes in the process of dismantling a stolen ATV.

Chief Deputy Ronnie Whitworth said Barnes did not live at the residence, but stayed there frequently.

“This was a widespread operation of commandeering ATVs and selling them out of state or selling their component parts,” Whitworth said.

According to Whitworth, the suspect was involved in selling and trading stolen ATVs in Florida and Georgia, as well as selling stolen parts via the Internet.

County investigators were able to track the suspect when he attempted to sell stolen parts through Facebook, Ebay and other online sources.

Several ATVs were located at the site of the arrest, but Whitworth said only two had been reported stolen.

The sheriff’s department was able to recover those vehicles.

“This is an ongoing investigation and we’ll likely see more arrests and more ATVs turning up,” Whitworth said.

Because the investigation is ongoing, a value of the stolen property has yet to be released, but some of the larger sized ATVs can cost nearly $10,000 each.

Some vehicles were stolen locally, and the department has ascertained some information about those.

However, Whitworth said recovery of the vehicles could prove difficult as some have already been sold or disposed of.

Whitworth asks anyone who has purchased an ATV through Barnes or any of his known associates to contact the Coffee County Sheriff’s Department at 894-5535.

In addition, any resident who’s had an ATV stolen is welcome to call and check the list of vehicles recovered by the department.

“We’ve put a closure to a lot of things that have been done in the area,” Whitworth said. “Some of the merchandise can’t be returned because it has been disposed of, but we have closed a case on some stolen properties.”

Whitworth also reminded residents to be mindful when purchasing items from individuals online.

“If it seems to good to be true, it probably is,” he said.

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