Cops and Courts, Latest News

Three arrested in Preston County for theft of lumber, property

Three Preston County residents were charged with grand larceny and conspiracy late last week after the victim and law enforcement officers found a bag of trash containing documents with the suspects’ first and last names. 

Sgt. S.A. Belt, with the Preston County Sheriff’s Department, was dispatched to Power Plant Road in Albright for the reported burglary on May 14, according to court records. 

The victim, who said they had last been to the property on May 4, told Belt that numerous items had been stolen sometime between May 4–14. The victim also said they discovered a bag containing trash they believed to belong to the thieves.  

After finding the trash, the officer found DHHR paperwork with the name Stephanie Moats, 37, of Bretz, a debit card with the name Donald Moats, 44, of Reedsville, and a check receipt from a company that buys lumber. 

Upon checking the names in court and police dispatch records, Belt found that Donald Moats has a history of theft and destruction of property. The sergeant also discovered that Moats was pulled over on May 5 by a state trooper on W.Va. 7 in Preston County. Both of the Moats were in the vehicle during that stop, along with a third person, Rickey Stout, 49, of Kingwood. 

The victim told Belt that several trees had been stolen from his property, along with several items taken from a storage unit on the property. The lumber included red oak worth approximately $2,500, white oak valued at $2,000 and poplar worth around $800. 

According to the information and body cam footage Belt found regarding the May 5 traffic stop, a trailer containing cut-down trees was attached to Donald Moats’ Jeep Liberty at the time he was pulled over. 

Belt called the lumber company named on the check receipt and the owner of that company confirmed that the Moats couple had sold them several logs. 

On May 16, the victim contacted Belt again, stating they had placed two trail cameras on the property after the initial robbery and had since captured the Jeep from the traffic stop, both of the Moats and Stout on video taking lumber two more times. 

In addition to the $5,300 in lumber stolen, the victim alleged they also took several items from a storage unit on site — specifically a 1981 Honda XR 100 motorcycle worth around $3,500 and a John Deere MX 6 brush mower valued around $2,500. 

Between the equipment and the lumber, the victim believes they lost approximately $11,300 in property. 

On May 17, Stephanie and Donald Moats were both charged with grand larceny and conspiracy and arraigned in Preston County Magistrate Court.  Stout was arraigned the following day, May 18, on the same charges. All three are being held at Tygart Valley Regional Jail on $50,000 bonds.

TWEET @DominionPostWV