An arrest for the theft of a self-propelled lawn mower in Webster Parish may have solved a series of thefts in several south Arkansas communities.
Johnathon M. Rhodes, 24, of Homer and El Dorado Ark. resident Samantha Lynn Miller, 22, are currently being held at Bayou Dorcheat Correctional Center on the local theft charge and on a hold from Union County, Ark., for a number of thefts, Webster Parish Sheriff Gary Sexton said.
Both Rhodes and Miller are charged with stealing most of the items in south Arkansas and driving to Minden to sell the goods, Sexton said.
"We believe they were on their way to Minden to pawn some of the stolen items and ran out of gas on Hwy. 79 outside of town," Sexton said. "Apparently, they saw a gas can and lawnmower in the garage of a home and just decided to take them. We believe their biggest mistake was coming to Webster Parish."
Sexton said the homeowner had recorded the serial number of the lawnmower, which helped lead detectives to the suspects.
"There are many, many lawnmowers like the one stolen that are sold," Sexton said. "It certainly helps us when people take the little extra time to record serial numbers of their possessions."
Rhodes was scheduled to be in court in Homer when Webster officers arrived with several arrest warrants. Sexton said Rhodes fled the courthouse but was arrested by Claiborne Parish deputies a short time later.
Sexton said Rhodes confessed to stealing items in Arkansas towns including El Dorado, Parker's Chapel and Smackover and bringing them to Louisiana to pawn at shops in Minden and Bossier City.
"During questioning, Rhodes admitted to having a drug problem. They were stealing to support their habit," Sexton said.
Charges filed against Rhodes and Miller include illegal possession of stolen things (two counts), theft by fraud under $500 (two counts), felony illegal possession of stolen things over $1,000, felony illegal possession of stolen things over $2,500 and illegal possession of stolen things over $400.
The pair is being held on bonds totaling $15,000.