Crime

Man appears in court in vehicle thefts case

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A Crawfordsville man made his first court appearance Thursday in connection to last month’s spree of vehicle thefts involving a Montgomery County Highway Department truck.

Justin Thomas Booth, 31, faces three felony charges of auto theft and two misdemeanor charges of theft that were elevated to level 6 felonies due to a prior theft conviction, according to court records.

Booth was charged with an additional felony count of theft for allegedly stealing a bag of popcorn from a Dollar General store two weeks later while waiting for his court date, court records show.

On Dec. 30, a red 2013 Ford F-150 pickup truck belonging to the highway department was stolen from the F&F Mart in Waveland, police say.

Within minutes of each other, a man reported a black 2016 Ford Explorer stolen from his driveway on C.R. 750W and another man said his green 1999 Ford Explorer was stolen from an alley next to ATS Automotive in New Market.

Investigators say Booth stole the green Explorer and ditched it at the house on C.R. 750W before stealing the second vehicle and driving to the convenience store.

Security camera footage captured a man matching Booth’s description leaving the store in the highway truck heading west on State Road 47. A Covington police officer stopped the truck in Fountain County and arrested Booth.

A backpack belonging to the owner of the black Explorer was found in the truck, but investigators were unable to find a highway department cell phone, according to a probable cause affidavit signed by deputy prosecuting attorney Greg Miller.

Booth was booked into the Montgomery County Jail and released on a promise to appear in court.

On Jan. 11, Booth was arrested in connection to the theft at the Dollar General on West Market Street.

A store employee told police Booth had walked around the store picking up multiple items and asked the cashier if the store accepted Facebook Pay, according to a probable cause affidavit signed by Crawfordsville Police Officer Skyler Viray.

When the cashier said no, Booth allegedly took a bag of popcorn and began eating it and the cashier called police.

Montgomery Superior Court Judge Heather Barajas granted Booth’s request for a public defender, court records show. A jury trial has been set for 8:30 a.m. May 25.

Booth is being held without bond in the Montgomery County Jail.

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