A woman whose car was overheating thought she was being assisted by three good samaritans Tuesday morning. Instead, those three are accused of stealing her cell phone.
Officers from the Covington Police Department were called around 8:45 a.m. about the theft. They met with the victim, who reportedly told them her car had overheated and she had pulled into Hays Furniture on Washington Street and a man driving a jeep stopped to help her.
She said the man, identified as Benjamin David Cheek, 36, sat in her driver’s seat to show her how to work her vehicle. She also informed officers that her cell phone was in her driver’s side door handle. When Cheek left her vehicle, she noticed her phone was missing.
According to reports, the woman searched her vehicle but was unable to locate her cell phone. When she turned around to question Cheek, he was gone. Two men who were standing outside the furniture store allegedly told officers the identity of the man driving the jeep. They also said that they saw 31-year-old Regina Ann Pruitt in the back of Cheek’s jeep and 53-year-old Timothy Lee Carithers in the passenger seat.
Just as officers were getting the description of Cheek’s vehicle, the victim told them it had just went by. Officers got into their patrol car and got behind the jeep which reportedly made a U-turn on Washington Street then drove back to Hays Furniture and stopped.
When the officers asked Cheek — who was driving — what he was doing, he reportedly told them he had been helping the victim. The officers got all three people inside the jeep’s identifications, and took it to the victim to see if she could ID the suspects. She said that Cheek had been the one inside her vehicle and that Carithers had helped him. She said that Pruitt stayed inside the jeep the whole time.
Around this time Carithers and Pruitt both jumped out of the jeep and started walking away. Both were told to stop and sit down. Cheek then got out of the jeep and allegedly asked officers “what this was all about.” When he was told he reportedly invited officers to search his jeep for the victim’s cell phone and that he was “just trying to help the lady.” He was also ordered to sit down while officers searched his vehicle.
The officers noticed that all three suspects appeared to be agitated, according to reports. In an effort to save time, the officers contacted dispatch with the victim’s cell phone number and asked that they call the phone. Sure enough, the officers could hear it ringing inside Cheek’s vehicle. Though it took several calls, officers eventually located the cell phone in the passenger side back seat inside of the roll bar padding. The victim identified the phone as hers.
Cheek, Pruitt and Carithers were all arrested and placed into separate patrol cars. According to reports Cheek became violent, Pruitt said she didn’t do anything and that Cheek and Carithers took the phone and threw it to her and she threw it back to them, and Carithers said that Cheek alone had stolen the phone.
All three were transported to the Newton County Detention Center. Cheek was charged with theft by taking and Pruitt and Carithers were charged with theft by receiving.
Man busted for trying to steal a DNA test
A Covington man was arrested Wednesday after allegedly trying to steal a DNA test from a local pharmacy.
When officers from the Covington Police Department arrived at the Rite Aid store around 6:30 p.m., they met with the loss prevention employee, who was bleeding from the mouth. The man reportedly told officers that he watched 42-year-old Gregory Griffith take a DNA paternity test and tuck the box under his shirt and into the waistband of his pants, then walk to the front of the store.
The employee said that he followed Griffith and met him at the doors of the store and confronted him about the concealed test. Griffith allegedly told the employee that he had put the test back on the shelf and the employee asked him to go back to the shelf with him and point it out. When they arrived in that area Griffith tried to take the test out of his shirt and put it back on the shelf without being detected, according to reports.
The employee told him they needed to go to the back and “do some paperwork” but Griffith allegedly had other plans. He headed toward the doors, according to reports, and when the employee attempted to stop him he reportedly began fighting with him.
According to the employee, Griffith put his finger in his [the employee’s] mouth and pulled hard, causing his mouth to bleed. The two then tussled on the ground for a few moments before Griffith reportedly said that he had a bad heart. It was around this time that officers arrived.
Griffith was arrested and transported to the Newton County Detention Center where he was charged with shoplifting.