Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz said two Muskingum County residents face significant jail time after they went on a county-wide crime spree.
Sheriff Lutz said 26-year-old Jason Wheeler and 23-year-old Laci Huffman began their crimes on July 7th. He said they hit eight different locations from Gratiot to Blue Rock stealing two vehicles, license plates, electronics and other items. One of their last crimes was kicking open the door of a home near Chandlersville.
"There was never any violence shown that we can tell," explained Lutz. "A lot of this stuff was when people weren’t home. It seems like when they start going down this path there’s never really a stop sign to tell them to stop until unfortunately we get involved and get them caught."
The sheriff said in less than 24 hours after their crime spree began it was over. Lutz said luck and an informed deputy helped to break the case.
"We had some information of who could be involved. More importantly one of our deputies, Deputy Schwartz, was out on the road on patrol and saw a vehicle that matched the description of what we were looking for and ended up checking a license plate. It came back to the right people," said Sheriff Lutz.
Wheeler was charged with 21 counts. While Huffman faces 20 charges. Each are charged with various counts of theft, misuse of a credit card, and breaking and entering. Wheeler is also charged with possession of drugs.
If they are convicted of all charges they could face fifty years in jail. Sheriff Lutz said 95 percent of the property stolen in this case was recovered by the sheriff’s office.
He said in this case Wheeler and Huffman’s crimes were ones of opportunity. They found vehicles that were unlocked or contained keys and took advantage. To cut down on your chances of becoming a victim Sheriff Lutz offers these tips.
*Always lock car doors
*Never keep keys in vehicles, even if the car is in a garage
*Install motion lights on your home