By Jeff Lehr
JOPLIN, Mo. —
The suspects in last month’s break-ins and vandalism at Big John’s Heavy Equipment in Joplin slipped up when one accidentally left his wallet behind at the scene of the crime.
A few days after the second break-in the weekend of May 25-26, Big John’s employee Charles Smith was cleaning broken glass out of a service truck trashed by the culprits and discovered a wallet behind the driver’s seat.
“There’s something about that seat that, if you’re in the truck driving, it’ll just pop the wallet out of your back pocket,” Smith explained Friday, shortly after police announced the charging of three young Joplin men in the case.
The wallet contained two credit cards and the business card of a local probation officer, and led police to Joshua C. Wilkins, 17. Questioning of Wilkins led to alleged accomplices Joshua B. Foulk, 18, and Bryce L. Tune, 20, police said.
Wilkins and Foulk are believed to have been involved in both break-ins at Big John’s, 1400 E. Vandalia St., and are charged with two counts each of burglary and property damage and single counts of theft and tampering with a motor vehicle. Tune is facing single counts of burglary and property damage from the first break-in the weekend of May 18-19.
Detective Darren McIntosh said the suspects were expected to turn themselves in Friday on warrants with surety bonds of $15,000 and cash bonds of $5,000 for Wilkins and Foulk. Tune’s warrant carried a surety bond of $7,500 and a cash bond of $2,500.
Sid Davis, owner of Big John’s, was not so sure police had caught all those involved in the break-ins. He told the Globe that he thinks some juveniles may have had a hand in it as well. Davis caught a couple of juveniles on the property a few months ago.
Police said those juveniles were questioned about the May break-ins and are not believed to have been involved this time.
Davis said damage to his property amounted to upwards of $70,000 in the May break-ins. The culprits caused extensive damage to several vehicles, smashed office equipment and broke windows. They used the truck in which the wallet was found as a battering ram to plow into other vehicles, he said.
They also stole power tools, a bed liner, a neon clock and other items.
Although police said all the stolen property has been recovered, Davis said his insurance is not likely to cover more than about $5,000 of the property damage since he was carrying only liability coverage on most of the vehicles.