LANCASTER — Four people have been arrested, thousands of dollars worth of property has been recovered and an unknown number of local burglaries have been solved largely due to an officer connecting two seemingly unconnected events.
Before dawn Monday, a man police describe as a “Good Samaritan” stopped just inside the Garrard County line on Ky. 52 east of Danville to assist a couple of men who were trying to tie a tow strap from a Dodge to a stalled Ford truck with a four-wheeler in the bed. The two men began acting suspiciously. The Good Samaritan stepped away to call for roadside assistance. The two men jumped into the Dodge and drove away.
Police say convicted felons Travis E. Puckett, 30, of 107 Debbie Drive in Lancaster and Brett M. Martin, 21, of 402 Southway Drive south of Lancaster had not only stolen the disabled truck but there likely were loaded handguns in the cab of the Dodge at the time, as was the case when they were arrested just before midnight the same day. Boyle County Deputy Sheriff Chris Stratton said he got the call about the truck off the side of Ky. 52 just 50 yards into Garrard County at 4:50 a.m.
“Turns out, they had stolen the truck and the four-wheeler from a barn off Hubble Road in Boyle from the farm of Chad Poynter,” Stratton said. “The witness, the man who stopped to help, was able to give a good description of the vehicle.”
Also responding to the scene, Stratton said, was Lancaster patrol officer James Stepp, who was paying attention.
Later that night, Lancaster police received a complaint call about a truck parked in a vacant lot playing loud music with its headlights on bright, shinning directly into houses on the other side of the road.
Stepp happened to be on duty again and noticed the truck in question matched the description of the suspect vehicle from the previous incident.
Stratton was called at home and went to the scene. “Stepp had started talking to them, and the back of the truck was just full of stuff, power tools and the like,” said Stratton.
During a pat down, police observed two loaded handguns in plain sight in the truck cab. Two more turned up.
“Sometimes it just all falls into place,” said Shaun Seger, a patrolman with the Lancaster Police Department, who credits the cooperation of the agencies with what has turned out to be a big case.
“The big thing is that multiple agencies, Boyle County Sheriff’s Department and the Garrard sheriff’s department, even a local constable, we all worked together,” Seger said.
“When we searched the truck, we found some checks that had been reported stolen and had the victim come out to the scene who was able to identify some of the property,” Seger said.
“I was called out there to assist with searching the vehicle and cataloging the property, and what we found led to a search warrant being issued for 402 Southway Drive where more property was recovered.”
Additional information from the suspects led to search warrants executed at 8:45 a.m. Tuesday at the home Martin shares with Elizabeth Barnes, 42, located at 402 Southway Drive. Stephanie Baker, 24, was staying at the address as well, but police say they have no permanent address for her. The two women were soon also under arrest.
Also found were “truckloads” of stolen property. “Four or five pickup truckloads of property so far,” Seger said.
Stratton said a laptop found was easily traced back to a burglary two weeks ago from a Chenault Bridge home, which, along with the truck and four-wheeler and the checks, solved cases before the initial searches were even completed.
The hot trail got hotter still.
“The suspects then said there was more at Martin’s mother’s and grandmother’s residence, that they share,” Stratton said. Police were given permission to search the home at 3969 Mount Hebron Road in Garrard County where they found even more allegedly stolen property.
“I know you hear it all the time, but documenting your valuables, keeping a record of serial numbers, really aids in an investigation to get property back to the owners very quickly,” Seger said.
Seger said many more charges are expected to be added to initial charges of possession of a handgun by a convicted felon and receiving stolen property for both men and possession of meth precursors for the women.
The suspects are being held at the Lincoln County Regional Jail.