A truck found dumped in a pond led investigators to a burglary suspect.
Franklin C. Smith, 29, Marion, is charged with three counts of burglary, two counts of criminal damage to property and two counts of theft.
On April 20, 2014, Officer Lisa Benitez responded to a burglary complaint on the 200 block of West Perry Avenue in Marion.
Benitez spoke to a resident who said he heard loud banging outside his apartment building. When he went to the door, he saw nobody nearby. He returned to his bedroom, then heard the banging again.
The man then went outside to the stall where his pickup was parked. From there he heard the sound of the engine of a forklift parked in an adjacent stall. The forklift was started, but because there was only a tiny amount of propane left in the vehicle it quickly stopped running.
The man told Benitez he also saw what might be a silver SUV with its lights off drive northbound on Main Street.
Later that same day, Benitez responded to a burglary complaint at Perry’s Landing Golf Course on Mavis Road in Marion.
The owner told Benitez someone broke into his bar and stole more than $1,450 from his cash register.
Benitez then responded to a burglary complaint on the 100 block of West Perry Avenue where a 3,500-hp generator had been stolen.
At the same time Marion police were investigating the burglaries, Clintonville police were investigating a stolen vehicle found in Pigeon Lake at the park on Clintonville’s west side. The SUV’s steering column was broken, and it appeared the vehicle had been hotwired. However, the cut wiring was connected to a computer chip that would have made it impossible to start the engine.
The SUV belonged to Smith, who told police he had no idea how it turned up in the pond.
Smith also could not explain the generator police had found near the vehicle.
According to the criminal complaint, Smith told police he had been at Kangaroo K’s with his father until about midnight the night the SUV was stolen. He said he had gone home and parked it in the driveway.
Kangaroo K’s is located near the intersection of Main Street and Perry Avenue in Marion.
Smith’s girlfriend at the time told police they had gone out earlier the night of April 19, then he had taken her home and gone out with his father until some time between midnight and 1 a.m. on April 20.
However, the bartender told police Smith had been at the bar until about 1:30 a.m. and that there had been no woman with him at the time.
Investigators later obtained phone records indicating Smith was calling and sending text messages to his girlfriend after the time he said he had returned home.
The girlfriend was then brought to the Marion police station for further questioning. She then said Smith had called and asked her for a ride. She picked him up from an area directly across the street from where the SUV had been dumped in the pond.
The girlfriend also told police Smith had given her a couple of hundred bucks that he said was from tips he earned from barkeeping that night.