On May 26, 2023, a Caldwell resident reported a breaking and entering and theft at his family’s property near the community of Fulda. Sheriff’s detectives began an investigation by going to the scene. Upon viewing the scene, it was believed the suspect(s) would probably be returning to steal more items. Investigators used technology at the scene including hidden cameras and a GPS unit. The GPS was placed in a Rototiller that had been moved towards the door of the building as if they would return to steal it.
On June 1, 2023, at approximately 4:25 a.m., alerts of trespassers at the property were received. Sheriff Jason Mackie, deputies and detectives were alerted to the activity at the scene. The response led to the arrest of two Guernsey County men by Sheriff Mackie at approximately 5:20 a.m. in Cumberland, Ohio. The two men, Douglas Steele, age 53, and Devon Wickham, age 26, both of Byesville, Ohio, were found in possession of stolen items from the Fulda property. Wickham and Steele were arrested and charged with Tampering with Evidence. Additional charges are expected on both men.
Detectives continued their investigation, which led them to a Lucasburg Road, Byesville address on the afternoon of June 1, 2023, and resulted in the recovery of stolen property estimated to be valued at over $30,000.
On June 12, 2023, Eli Thompson, age 47, formerly of Byesville, was arrested and charged with Tampering with Evidence. He remains incarcerated at the Noble County Jail.
On June 14, 2023, Thomas W. Johnson, age 51, of Caldwell, was arrested and charged with Breaking and Entering. During his arrest, more violations were discovered, and Johnson was subsequently charged with Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and Tampering with Evidence. Johnson remains in the Noble County Jail.
The investigation continues and additional suspects are expected to be identified and charged in this matter. This case will be presented to the office of Noble County Prosecuting Attorney Jordan Croucher for review, and additional charges are expected to be filed.
“I knew it was going to be an interesting morning when I was awakened to find out the rototiller was traveling up the road at 50 miles per hour,” Sheriff Jason Mackie said. “As I arrived in in Cumberland, I observed a pickup truck stopped in an alleyway with a full load of stolen goods including the rototiller.
“Embracing technology that enhances the efficiency of our operations at the Sheriff’s Office has been a priority of mine,” the sheriff said. “These technologies which are relatively low cost are force multipliers; in years past these types of cases required a much heavier burden of manpower cost for live surveillance.”