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Auto thieves sent to jail for crimes
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Three men have been sentenced for their part in an auto theft ring that ended when they tried to avoid capture by crawling out the back window of an apartment when lawmen arrived to arrest them.
The defendants, Gregory Austin Smith, 21, Dalton Lee Porter, 18, both of Woodbury, and Tyler Gage Finley, 21, of Crossville, all entered guilty pleas to charges of grand theft and auto burglary. They were each directed to serve 145 days of two-year sentences.
McMinnville police detective Todd Rowland said the vehicle thefts happened over this past summer in the Civic Center and Northside areas of the city and were made possible because the owners did not take simple precautions.
“The vehicles were stolen because they were easy targets,” Rowland said. “They were left unlocked and the keys were inside.”
There was also a theft of a Nissan truck from Coffee County where the three were involved. In that case, the young auto thieves led Warren County sheriff’s deputy Brystol Davis on a high-speed chase that ended when they abandoned the stolen truck and fled on foot.
Their auto theft spree came to an end in June when detectives were able to single out the three as suspects and went looking for them at Buckingham Apartments. Their whereabouts were easy to locate since the woman who lived at the apartment, Tasha Michelle Spurlock, 29, left a note on the door warning no one to knock unless they were one of the three suspects.
With the writing literally on the door, police knocked and were met by Spurlock at the door.
“She said they had been there but had left,” Rowland said of Spurlock’s lie to cover for the men who were, at that very moment, climbing out her bedroom window. The men were captured following a foot chase in the area of the apartment complex. Spurlock joined them in their trip to jail, charged with making a false report to police.
In the case of Smith, the suspect helped police make their case since the insurance card and registration from one the vehicles they stole was found in his wallet at the time of his arrest. A key ring from one of the stolen vehicles was also found on him.
Spurlock has her case set for Jan. 15.