An alert Volusia County Sheriff’s deputy along with some key evidence left behind at the crime scene led to the arrest Thursday of three people accused of trying to steal a large amount of property and copper wire from an abandoned business near DeLand.
It was shortly after 4 p.m. when a patrol deputy checking out the area around a shuttered business along West S.R. 44 west of DeLand spotted two people from a distance who were inside a fenced compound. The two quickly ran off, and the deputy and other responding units mounted a search of the interior of the building and surrounding areas. About an hour later, the Sheriff’s Office received a call from someone reporting three suspicious people who were walking out of the woods and heading to a nearby convenience store. Deputies responded to the store, where they located and detained the suspects. All three were covered in dirt and grease and were sporting fresh abrasions and lacerations on their arms and legs. Meanwhile, during a search of the building, deputies found property stacked up as if someone was getting ready to carry it away. The property included commercial fan motors, air conditioning vent covers, commercial-sized breaker panels, commercial exhaust fan assemblies, miscellaneous hand tools and a bunch of copper wire.
Deputies also discovered key evidence inside the building linking the trio to the burglary, including a personal ledger belonging to one of the suspects and foot prints on pieces of paper found on the floor that matched the size and tread of the shoes worn by the suspects. During a search, one of the suspects was found to have a knife on him as well as a needle that tested positive for Oxycodone. Another had three open arrest warrants. The defendants and their charges are as follows:
-Brent Dobbs, age 24 (DOB: 7/5/87), Orange City. Charged with burglary, attempted grand theft, criminal mischief and resisting an officer without violence.
-Ernest Sawyer, Jr., age 23 (DOB: 2/27/89), Orange City. Charged with burglary, attempted grand theft, criminal mischief, resisting an officer without violence, possession of Oxycodone and possession of drug paraphernalia.
-Shantel Stearns, age 23 (DOB: 1/29/89), DeLand. Charged with burglary, attempted grand theft, criminal mischief and resisting an officer without violence. Stearns also had three open warrants, one for failure to appear in court regarding a charge of driving with a suspended license and two probation violations related to charges of grand theft.