Cell phone tracking results in arrest of theft suspect

Thanks to a tracking device built into a cellular telephone, White Hall police were able to identify a suspect who allegedly broke into a vehicle Thursday night, but were not able to recover some of the items reportedly taken, including the phone.

Michael Thorns, 53, who is on parole and had eight prior breaking or entering charges, was taken into custody after officers tracked the phone to the Dollarway area, then down the Martha Mitchell Expressway where they lost the signal at Barraque and Oak streets, Deputy Prosecutor Cymber Gieringer said during a court hearing for Thorns on Friday.

White Hall Police Sgt. John Zuber said in a probable-cause affidavit that the female victim told officers she had parked her car at the Lighthouse Restaurant at 6:15 p.m. and when she returned at 6:55 p.m., she found the right front passenger window broken.

A purse containing more than $800 cash, a checkbook, credit and debit cards and the phone were among the items missing.

Gieringer said the alleged victim said she had a program that would allow AT&T to track the phone, and Sgt. Mark Bradley, who was following the track, stopped a vehicle occupied by Thorns after seeing several items being thrown from the window.

The victims’s checkbook was located in the vehicle, and Thorns had $805 in cash, including seven $100 bills and assorted other currency, Zuber said. The alleged victim reported that she had seven $100 bills and assorted other currency in the purse, according to Zuber.

In addition to being unable to locate the phone, officers were not able to locate the credit or debit cards during their investigation.

Although White Hall police initially booked Thorns on breaking or entering or theft of property, Gieringer said the proper charge would be theft by receiving because Thorns allegedly had the checkbook, and the cash that was believed to have been stolen.

Because of the dollar amount, she said it would not rise to the level of a felony offense and Circuit Judge Berlin Jones agreed to her request to find that Thorns could be charged with misdemeanor theft by receiving, pending further investigation.

Jones, who was sitting in for Jefferson County District Judge Kim Bridgforth, set bond for Thorns at $2,500 cash only.