BRIDGEVILLE, Del. - Police say that they have arrested a tire thief after he abandoned his car at the dealership and was found walking along the road in Bridgeville on Sunday.
According to Delaware State Police, troopers responded to the Car Store on Beach Highway around 4:56 AM on Sunday, after a suspicious person wearing dark clothing and a ski mask was reported to the Sussex County Emergency Operations Center (9-1-1) in the parking lot.
Upon the troopers arrival, police say that the suspect was no where to be found, but a tan in color Chevrolet Tahoe with District of Columbia registration was found in the parking lot with two sets of truck tires resting on the ground next to it. A search of the area reportedly found that two pick up trucks had all of their tires removed and were sitting on bricks, causing damage to the brake rotors.
Police say that a third pickup truck was found on the lot with the lug nuts removed but the tire had not yet been removed. Surveillance video was reviewed with the business owner which showed the suspect running away in a westerly direction as the first trooper arrived on scene. Police say that a computer check of the registration found that the owner of the Tahoe was 49-year-old Ernest Covington of Washington, DC. Troopers began searching the area for Covington and were able to find a witness around 7:00 AM who said that he saw a person near the intersection of Seashore Highway and Scotts Store Road wearing dark colored clothing.
At approximately 8:00 AM, a trooper saw a suspect walking in a westerly direction on Seashore Highway, just west of Farmer Genes Market (4213 Seashore Highway) with a bag of chips and sodas in his hands. Troopers say that they then stopped the man, who gave police a false name.
A pat-down search was made on the man, who was found to have a traffic camera citation that had a photo of the Tahoe and registration as well as a key for the same car that was found at the Car Store.
Police say that while Covington was positively identified and being transported back to Troop five, a burglary was reported from Farmer Genes Market. The investigation found that a man forced his way into the building by forcibly taking an air conditioning unit. Once inside, the suspect reportedly took change from a tip jar along with an unknown amount of cash from the register, which was later found outside the same window with damage to the till.
Also reported stolen was a bag of chips, soda, and some slim jims all of which was found on Covington upon his arrest. Covington was charged with third degree burglary, theft over $1500, theft under $1500, attempted theft under $1500, two counts of criminal mischief, criminal impersonation, possession of burglary tools, hindering prosecution and third degree criminal trespassing. He was arraigned at JP three and committed to Sussex Correctional Institution on $15,100 cash bond.
The investigations into the thefts of automobile tires in the Kent and Sussex County areas are continuing by detectives and more charges may be forthcoming for Covington.