Theft Investigation Leads To 4 Arrests & Recovery Of Approximately $500,000 In Property

On Wednesday, February 14, an investigation into the thefts of large amounts of copper and other materials from Vistra’s Luminant Coffeen Power Plant resulted in the arrests of 4 individuals and the recovery of an estimated $500,000 worth of property.

In late January, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office and Illinois Department of Natural Resources Conservation Police received information that unauthorized individuals had been illegally entering power plant in rural Montgomery County, stealing materials. Deputies and officers from both agencies began investigating the information and discovered that large amounts of copper wire and multiple other items of property were missing from the plant.

On February 14, at approximately 4 AM Vistra employees notified officials that unauthorized individuals were inside the power plant. Deputies and Conservation Police responded to the area and observed a pickup truck and a 4-wheeler fleeing from the property. The occupants in the pickup truck were observed to be wearing masks. A traffic stop was initiated and conducted. 3 subjects were located inside the pickup truck and a large amount of copper wire, tools, and other materials consistent with Vistra property were found in the bed of the pickup truck.

The occupants of the truck were identified as 40 year old Cole Y. Waugh of Gillespie, 46 year old Judy A. Wilkins of Gillespie, and 49 year old Tabetha L. Spann of Girard. All three were taken into custody, transported to the Montgomery County Jail, and charged with alleged Criminal Trespass to Property, Possession of Burglary Tools, and Burglary. Further investigation revealed 45 year old Caleb J. Prose of Gillespie was the subject who fled the area on the 4-wheeler and that Prose possibly possessed more stolen property from the power plant in a storage facility in Gillespie.

Deputies sought and obtained a search warrant for that storage unit and discovered large amounts of copper wire, tools, suspected methamphetamine, and the 4-wheeler Prose had used earlier to flee the power plant property.

Officials obtained an arrest warrant for Prose for the charge of alleged Burglary and found him hiding in the attic of a residence in rural Macoupin County. He was also taken into custody and transported to the Montgomery County Jail. Prose was further charged with Criminal Trespass to Property and Possession of Methamphetamine.

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