Bristol man faces felony charges in Watauga thefts

Published 9:13 am Thursday, August 20, 2015

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A Bristol man faces felony charges after police say he stole a high-end mower and an all-terrain vehicle from a home in Watauga in April of this year.
Officers of the Carter County Sheriff’s Department arrested Ralph Edward Fleenor, IV, 22, 835 V. I. Branch Road, Bristol, on warrants charging him with two counts of theft of property over $10,000.
On April 12, a Watauga man reported to the Sheriff’s Department that someone had stolen a Yamaha ATV valued at $15,000 and a Kubota Mower from his home.
CCSD Chief Deputy Investigator Mike Little was assigned to the case and during his investigation he learned the theft in Watauga may be related to thefts in the region.
“In early June of 2015, investigators with the Washington County, Virginia, Sheriff’s Department conducted an operation within their jurisdiction in response to a significant amount of ATV thefts which were occurring,” Little said in court documents. “In connection with this operation, the investigators learned that two individuals, identified as Bobby Harr and Ralph Edward Fleenor IV had stolen numerous ATVs, ultimately leading to Bobby Harr being charged.”
During the investigation in Virginia, police spoke to Fleenor regarding the thefts, Little said, adding Fleenor admitted to officers that he, Harr and two other subjects had stolen a side-by-side ATV and a Kubota mower from the home in Carter County. Fleenor told officers he had taken the mower to Kentucky and sold it to a man named Virgil Thacker.
“Washington County Virginia Investigators, along with Kentucky State Police Officers spoke with Virgil Thacker, who admitted to purchasing the mower, and stated that he sold it to his cousin Lunner Thacker,” Little said.
On August 4, Little went to Lunner Thacker’s home in Raccoon, Ky., where Lunner Thacker showed him the mower he had purchased from his cousin Virgil Thacker. Using the mower’s serial number Little was able to identify it as the mower reported stolen in Watauga.
Fleenor appeared in Carter County General Sessions Court on Wednesday where he was arraigned on the charges and an attorney with the Public Defender’s Office was appointed to represent him. Bond had originally been set at $30,000, but Judge Keith Bowers released Fleenor on his own recognizance and ordered him to return to court on Oct. 16.

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