- Posted July 27, 2009 by
San Angelo, Texas
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San Angelo, Texas Police: Three charged in theft of Goodfellow sheep
THIS NOT THE SHEEP THAT WAS STOLEN BUT A SIMILIAR ONE.
(July 28, 2009)
Thaddeus Geagley,charged with stealing a fiberglass sheep earlier this week, said he hopes he won’t be permanently branded as a criminal.
Geagley, along with two other 19-year-olds, face felony-theft charges after a stolen fiberglass sheep was found in the apartment where Geagley lives.
A woman saw four men taking the ‘Freedom for Me and ‘Ewe’ sheep from behind the 1st Community Federal Credit Union at 3505 Wildewood Drive early Sunday morning. The sheep, which police tracked by following a trail of corkscrews, wire and paint chips, was taken from the credit union to Wildewood Apartments, about a block away.
"We know the consequences of our actions." Geagley, an Angelo State University student said. "As far as me, I’m ready to face them and am looking forward to getting this situation behind us."
San Angelo police officers knocked on the apartment door for about an hour, Detective Cory Moore said, and could see someone peek out the window. He later concluded that person was Geagley.
Geagley, who said he moved the sheep from his bedroom to a back room after he heard police knocking on the door, said they intended to return the sheep. They had no need for a five-foot fiberglass sheep in their living room, he said.
The witness told police she saw four men carry away the sheep. Six men were originally found in the apartment and arrested. Charges against three of them were dropped — Geagley said one of the first things he told police was that those three were asleep and had no knowledge of the theft.
Geagley, Randall Key and Scotty Marsh, all of San Angelo, were charged with theft between $1,500 and $20,000, a state jail felony punishable by 180 days to two years in jail and a fine up to $10,000.
Geagley said he was shocked when he heard the charge.
"We thought that was extreme," Geagley said.
The sheep, which is owned by Goodfellow Air Force Base, was valued at $2,850, according to the police report.
"It’s not what they stole or where they stole it from, it’s the dollar amount of the property," Moore said. "If it was out of someone’s yard and it was a $1,500 bird bath, it would still be a state jail felony."
Marsh declined to comment on the incident. Key, also an ASU student, said he was "in the wrong place, in the wrong time" when the theft occurred.
All three were arrested Sunday and released Monday morning on $2,500 bond.
Moore said he was scheduled to meet with officials from Goodfellow Tuesday to look at the sheep and assess damage.
Crime scene technicians processed the sheep Tuesday looking for fingerprints, he said, but didn’t know if they found any.
Cheri Dedrick, a base spokeswoman, said the sheep is considered federal property, but since the suspects are non-military members and the offense was committed off base, no charges are pending through the Goodfellow.
"It would be up to the state or the county to make the decision with what they will do and how they will handle the case," Dedrick said.
A decision to repair or replace the sheep will come after damage is assessed, she said.
Although his family is disappointed, Geagley said they are also supportive and hopes he learns from the incident.
He said he’d like to apologize Goodfellow Air Force Base — "obviously it was their property and their hard work" — and the city of San Angelo.
"I wanted people to know it wasn’t intended to hurt anyone," he said. "We have no kind of record. We’re very prepared to pay for it."
Online comments to the story made him and his friends "sound like terrible kids," Geagley said, but they have no history of stealing signs or damaging property. He posted two comments himself, one apologizing and the other thanking people for their postings.
"Like I said (in the postings) — dumb mistake," Geagley said, "I don’t want to say I didn’t have a hand in it."
For three years, San Angelo has welcomed new residents around the city: fiberglass sheep — but now, one sheep is missing from its home behind 1st Community Federal Credit Union.
It’s a modern-day tale of sheep rustlers, a crime the San Angelo ‘flock’ of fiberglass sheep hadn’t experienced — until Sunday.
The sheep was stolen about 5:30 a.m. Sunday from the credit union at 3505 Wildewood.
"It actually belongs to Goodfellow Air Force base," said Jim Seale, 1st Community Federal Credit Union’s senior vice president. "They wanted some place to display it and asked us if it would be okay to put it out here — it’s been sitting out front for about a year."
According to the San Angelo Police Department incident and investigation report, a woman driving by the credit union saw four men taking the ‘Freedom for Me and ‘Ewe’" sheep. She drove back by and watched them haul the sheep across the street to Wildewood Apartments, 3410 Wildewood Drive.
When police approached the apartment, they noticed a corkscrew-shaped piece of metal, a white mark on the apartment door and a paint chip on the ground. After revisiting the credit union, police noticed a metal corkscrew stake in the ground — the same type found at the apartments.
Police were able to follow a trail of paint chips and corkscrews from the credit union to the apartment.
Dispatch told the officers the sheep was valued at $1,600 before it was painted. The particular sheep stolen was valued at $2,850, according to the investigation report. The range of value made its theft a felony.
Officers secured the area outside the apartment and took turns knocking on the door. When the door was opened, police went in with weapons drawn, the report said, "because they incident was a felony and I did not know if the subject had a weapon on the other side of the door."
Officer Harold Caston in the report said the person on the other side of the door was Thaddeus Geagley, 19.
The officers conducted a safety sweep to determine if anyone else was in the apartment, Detective Cory Moore said.
"Originally, the suspect opening the door said he was alone in the apartment," Moore said. "In the process, I found five other male suspects and the sheep."
Because there was an eyewitness who had seen the theft and called it in, police were able to conduct the safety sweep without a search warrant, but the search has legal restrictions, he said.
"We can’t look where people can’t fit," Moore said. "We can’t look in drawers and cabinets. I found the sheep in a bedroom closet — because someone could have been hiding there."
Six men were arrested, but after further investigation three were released and charges were dropped. The other three, Thaddeus Geagley, Randall Key and Scotty March, all 19 and residents of San Angelo, were charged with theft between $1,500 and $20,000, a state jail felony punishable by 180 days to two years in jail and a fine up to $10,000.
All three were released Monday morning on $2,500 bond.
"It breaks our heart — the public really likes these sheep," said Brenda Gunter, the promotions chairman for Downtown San Angelo Inc. who has been involved in the sheep project from the start. "We don’t want to run in fear of vandalism or theft."
Most of the fiberglass sheep in San Angelo are bolted onto a big base that makes them heavy and difficult to move. The stolen sheep was on spikes placed in the ground, Gunter said.
Moore said there is some damage to the sheep. "I don’t know how much damage would be considered too much damage. I don’t know if they are going to replace it or repair it — that will be up to Goodfellow," he said.
Goodfellow spokeswoman Cheri Dedrick said the sheep was purchased with base local funds, but the base had no comment regarding what it will do next.
The sheep was painted by Goodfellow personnel.