Traffic Stop Leads to Theft Charges

June 5, 2003
Posted at: 10:15 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO, Ark. -- The arrest of a Trumann man Wednesday may be the key to many unsolved crimes in Region 8.

Jason D. Pruitt was pulled over by the Arkansas State University Police in his red Jeep Cherokee around 3 a.m. Wednesday at the corner of Caraway Road and Danner Avenue. A search of the vehicle led to the discovery of a case of stolen CD's and a BB gun, the latter which police believe to be involved in other area crimes.

"We have had car break-ins recently in that same area," said Sgt. Randy Martin.

The case full of CDs had been reported missing recently by a Raymond Whiteside. Sgt. Randy Martin says Whiteside is likely one of many apparent victims of Pruitt's. According to Martin, Pruitt was stopped with one other man in the vehicle.

"At that point (the officer) placed them under investigative detention, and then we began an interview with them," Martin said of what occurred after the discovery of the CD case.

Investigators discovered that Pruitt is from Trumann. ASU Police began to discuss the case with the police in the Poinsett County town.

"There was about $4,000 worth of windshield's shot out with a BB gun (in Trumann)," Det. Jerry Foster of the Trumann Police said.

Foster says trucks at Wood Ford Sales were one target Pruitt and another man, Jimmy Chaffin, Jr., allegedly hit last week. Both men have been charged with criminal mischief.

The passenger in Pruitt's vehicle operates an automotive body shop at 324 Highway 463 in Trumann. On Wednesday, officers from Arkansas State arrived at the business, and discovered a car-load of stereo equipment. Then later, officers from the Trumann department found three more car-loads.

After looking over evidence collected in the Pruitt's vehicle and the business' garage, James D. Pruitt was arrested for theft by receiving more than $2,500 worth of stolen goods.

"We're probably going to amend that to at least a couple, maybe three counts of breaking and entering, and two to three counts of theft of property," Martin said.

So far, Pruitt is the only person that's been charged in the case Martin is investigating.

"We've got some more things we need to look at," he said. "Some more interviews we need to do. And hopefully out of that, we'll be able to make our second arrest."

Items found inside the Trumann business are also believed to be linked to a case that Jonesboro Police detectives are also working on, according to investigators.