CIRCLEVILLE - An organized effort through the Pickaway County Sheriff's Office road patrol, undercover drug unit and detective bureau led to the recovery of a stolen vehicle and a large stash of stolen merchandise in Darby Township, according to Sheriff Robert Radcliff.
Brian J. Mathews, 36, of Columbus, and Taylor N. Sampson, 22, of Orient, are currently in the Pickaway County Jail on charges of receiving stolen property. Sampson faces an additional charge of obstructing official business.
Both suspects may face additional charges as more victims are identified, Radcliff said.
According to reports, officers located a stolen vehicle in Darby Township about 7 p.m. June 12 while working a High Intensity Drug and Criminal Interdiction operation in the area.
Upon further investigation, deputies determined the suspects also were involved in multiple forgery and fraud cases involving more than 30 stolen credit cards that were taken in thefts from vehicles.
Additionally, investigators discovered items that had been fraudulently purchased with the stolen credit cards, including a diamond ring valued at $6,100.
Radcliff said the discovery was proof of a major theft operation involving multiple jurisdictions, victims and thefts from vehicles.
"This is an initiative we've been working on all year long," Radcliff said. "Our investigative patrol division, drug task force investigators and detectives identify areas where we want to step up patrol for periods of time to see what we can come up with. This shows how well that works out."
Radcliff said this is the third or fourth time this year his office has put extra resources into a specific area of the county to focus on criminal activity.
"When we go out, we're looking for drug activity and any other kinds of violations that might be happening in the area," he said. "We've made several traffic arrests, some drug arrests, but this is obviously the most significant as far as this type of investigation. When we go out on these things, we just never know what we're going to uncover."
A preliminary hearing for Mathews is set for June 22 in Circleville Municipal Court.
Sampson pleaded guilty to the charge of obstructing official business on Monday and was sentenced to 90 days in county jail with 87 days suspended and a $100 fine plus court costs. She also must serve one year of probation for that charge.
The status of the receiving stolen property case against Sampson was not available at press time.