Man faces multiple theft charges

Banner staff reports

A 26-year-old man has been tied to a string of thefts from vehicles reported Wednesday in Vallonia, police said.

Jeremy Alan Toppe of Brownstown faces a Level 5 felony charge of burglary, a Level 6 felony charge of theft of a firearm and six Level 6 felony counts of theft in connection with the investigation that began Wednesday when a person reported someone had gone through his mother’s car.

The burglary, investigated by county Officer Dustin Steward, was reported at 11:45 a.m. Wednesday at a residence in the 3200 block of West Church Street.

The man reporting that burglary told police he had caught Toppe on the property Tuesday night and ordered him to leave, said Lt. Andy Wayman with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department.

“He stopped by to buy a beer,” Wayman said of why Toppe was at the caller’s home Tuesday night.

Dispatchers later received three other reports that someone had broken into vehicles and a shed.

At 5:17 p.m., a caller who lives in the 2300 block of South Main Street in Vallonia reported someone had taken a bow, tools and other items.

An additional report of theft was received from a caller living in the 3300 block of West Water Street at 7:47 p.m., and a fourth call came from a man who lives in the 3300 block of West Church Street. That man reported a missing bow.

Wayman said county Reserve Officer Brent Terry received information while investigating one of those incidents that Toppe had been staying with someone on South Vine Street in Seymour.

Terry also received information from a witness who told police he saw Toppe in Vallonia trying to sell items matching the description of some of the missing items.

Terry and county reserve officers Charlie Murphy and James Murphy went to the home in Seymour and talked to several people living there. Toppe was there but denied having been in Vallonia or having any information about the stolen items, Wayman said.

He eventually admitted he had been in Vallonia visiting a friend earlier in the day and had been trying to sell the items for a friend, but he could only remember the friend’s first name, police said.

During the investigation, however, police found several of the items that had been reportedly taken from the incidents in Vallonia, including two bows, a shotgun, a couple of hunting knives, a Bluetooth speaker and a TomTom GPS unit.

“They’re pretty easy to sell,” Wayman said of the stolen items.

Police also learned Toppe had sold a crossbow with a value to $600 to a neighbor, and they were able to recover that item.

“They recovered pretty much everything,” Wayman said.

The stolen items were processed and returned to their owners.

Toppe was booked into the Jackson County Jail in Brownstown at 8:07 p.m. Wednesday and was being held without bond pending his initial hearing in Jackson Circuit Court.

The investigation is ongoing, and Toppe could face additional charges, police said.

County Officer Mark Holt also was involved in the investigation.

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Aubrey Woods is editor of The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at awoods@tribtown.com or 812-523-7051.