BLOOMFIELD — A group of teenagers was hit with multiple felony charges after allegedly stealing and wrecking nearly 20 vehicles in the last two weeks.
So far, three have been arrested after "upwards of 18 vehicles were stolen" between Davis, Jefferson and Wapello counties in the last two weeks, said Davis County Sheriff Dave Davis.
William McCarroll, 18, of Ottumwa, was charged with first-degree theft and two counts of second-degree theft after allegedly stealing a Hummer H2 from Drakesville and a Ford pick-up truck from Bloomfield early Thursday morning. He is being held in Davis County Jail on $10,000 cash-only bond.
McCarroll was first arrested on Thursday by Bloomfield police thanks to an officer's identification of him as the driver of the stolen pick-up in a pursuit on June 17 that started near Eldon, sped through Van Buren County and into Davis County, where law enforcement lost him on foot after he ditched the truck. He then allegedly stole an Oldsmobile Cutlass, which is submerged in Lake Arrowhead east of Ottumwa.
For the pursuit, he was also charged with felony eluding, reckless driving, fifth-degree criminal mischief and criminal trespass.
Following his arrest, law enforcement interviews of other individuals led to the arrest of two other teenagers.
Cody Surber, 18, of Ottumwa, was charged with second-degree theft (conspiracy). He is being held in Davis County Jail on $5,000 cash-only bond.
"[Surber] conspired with two others to steal the car after that chase [on June 17] ... and we have yet to recover that car," Davis said. "It's out in the middle of Lake Arrowhead in Wapello County. We're trying, but we've got to get divers lined up and the DNR needs to get a tractor to get back in there. It's a mess."
A 17-year-old Ottumwa boy is also being charged in Davis County with second-degree theft (conspiracy) in connection with the stolen car in Lake Arrowhead.
He is being held in detention in Ottumwa after the Wapello County Sheriff's Office also hit him with four charges of second-degree theft and a charge of theft (possession of stolen property) in connection with the theft of three cars from Ottumwa and two from Eddyville.
Davis said another 17-year-old is expected to be charged in connection with the car thefts.
"To be real honest with you, we talked to the [Davis] County Attorney and we are looking to possibly try the two 17-year-olds ... waiving them to adult court in reference to all of these incidents for the severity of all of the thefts," Davis said. "We had somewhere in the area of 10 vehicles stolen here in Davis County in a two-week period, and I know Jefferson County, the Ottumwa Police Department and Wapello County Sheriff have all got additional charges on several of these individuals."
Davis said the severity of the crimes, the multiple felony charges and finding the vehicles either burnt or wrecked led to his decision to try charging the 17-year-olds as adults.
"They were wrecking these vehicles purposely," he said. "Two of the stolen vehicles, they were ramming each other going down a roadway and leaving them on the side of the road or in the ditch, then going and stealing another car. It's just a blatant disregard for people's property ... and the safety of our folks out here in society when they're out doing this kind of stuff, and they're not driving sensibly."
The investigation is ongoing, Davis said, even though arrests have been made.
A Chrysler Town & Country minivan stolen from Drakesville Thursday morning was also recovered in the Des Moines River behind Applebee's in Ottumwa last week.
Several of the vehicles were totaled, including the Cutlass, Hummer and minivan.
"We've got multiple deputies and myself trying to get each individual figured out on who did what on each vehicle," Davis said. "That's not counting what the Bloomfield police and other sheriff's offices or OPD is doing. They have a laundry list of felony charges they're looking at here."
A Chevy Corvette was also stolen from Davis County two weekends ago, but Davis said he's not sure if it was related to this group's rash of thefts. The car was found burnt on the south end of the county.
Members of the Bloomfield Police Department, Jefferson County Sheriff's Office and Wapello County Sheriff's Office could not be reached as of press time Monday.
— To follow reporter Chelsea Davis on Twitter, head to @ChelseaLeeDavis.