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Church theft leads to arrest

Three Monticello residents arrested in catalytic converter theft

By Eugenia Jones

McCreary County Sheriff Randy Waters reports a member of Hill Top Church in Stearns requested assistance from the Sheriff’s Office and Kentucky State Police (KSP) when they observed a vehicle in the church parking lot and heard the sound of a sawzall as a catalytic converter was being cut from the church van.

Almost immediately following the report on March 9, 2022 at approximately 4:00 a.m., KSP Trooper Shaler Jones observed the reported vehicle speeding on Wilburn K. Ross Highway and made a traffic stop for the violation.  Just after the traffic stop, McCreary County Sheriff’s Deputy Dustin Ridner arrived at the scene.  The vehicle operator said they had indeed taken the converter at the church and showed the officers the converter in the vehicle’s trunk.  After being transported to the McCreary County Sheriff’s Office, all three occupants of the vehicle gave recorded video statements that the two male subjects had gotten out at the church, removed the converter from the church van, and threw the catalytic converter in their vehicle.  A DeWalt sawzall and a set of two-way radios on the same frequency were also located in the vehicle.

The three individuals arrested were Kyle J. Hicks, Eric W. Rhule, and Lashawnda D. Burnette, all of Monticello, Kentucky.  The three were charged with (1.) Criminal Mischief 1st degree and (2.) TBUT or DISP (Theft by Unlawful Taking or Disposition) all others $1,000 < $10,000.

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