Elkhart man arrested for string of auto thefts after found sleeping in stolen SUV

Posted on July 15, 2013 at 1:00 a.m. | Updated on July 15, 2013 at 5:12 p.m.

ELKHART — An Elkhart man was arrested last week after he was found sleeping in a car he had stolen the previous night.

Elkhart police received a report on Thursday, July 11, of a man sleeping in a tan Chevrolet Blazer in the alley behind 1111 Richmond Ave.

Officers found Steven Bonds Jr., 20, of Elkhart, asleep inside the vehicle, which had been reported as stolen from Premier Motors, 1605 W. Lexington, earlier in the day, according to the probable cause affidavit for his arrest filed on Monday, July 15, in Elkhart Superior Court 4.

The Vehicle Identification Number of the Blazer matched that of the stolen vehicle. The vehicle’s steering column had been punched and tools commonly used to tamper with ignition controls were on the front passenger seat.

Bonds was arrested at the scene and later confessed to six additional thefts dating back to mid-May, according to the affidavit. At least two other suspects were involved in the thefts, but their names have not been released.

Bonds faces preliminary charges on five counts of auto theft, two counts of theft, two counts of burglary, one count of receiving stolen property and one count of tampering with the identifying numbers of a vehicle.

Bonds told police that on June 6 he and two others stole a green 1995 Honda Civic from Motorsports Auto Sales, 1116 N. Nappanee St. The vehicle was recovered on June 18 at 1631 S. Main St.

The stolen vehicle had been painted black. Bonds admitted he was present when the car was stolen and that he had helped paint it black.

On June 10, a red Ford F350 16-passenger van was reported stolen from Premier Motors, 1635 Cassopolis St. The van was found parked at Studebaker Park, 1020 McDonald St., with a stolen license plate on June 11. Bonds told police he had acted as a lookout while another person punched the ignition and used a screwdriver to start the vehicle.

On June 7, International RV World, 2300 S. Nappanee St., reported that a customer’s 2012 Coachman Apex travel trailer had been stolen. The trailer was found parked behind 1631 S. Main St. on June 18 along with the Honda Civic. Inside police found clothing, tools and an appointment slip for Elkhart City Probation with an appointment date and time. The appointment was for Bonds.

Bonds told police he had used his cousin’s Chevrolet Suburban to steal the trailer and had used it as a place to sleep.

On June 18, police also found an industrial-size utility trailer at 1631 S. Main St. cut into pieces. The trailer’s VIN number was traced to Edward Login, who did not know the trailer had been stolen from his church until police contacted him.

Bonds said he did not steal the trailer, but two of his cousins had told him the trailer was stolen. He said he and his cousin had towed the tailer to Fort Wayne to help his cousin move.

On June 20, Pao’s Auto Sales, 2644 Sterling Ave., reported a burglary. Three vehicles — a black Cadillac Escalade, a white Mitsubishi Lancer and a red Pontiac Solistice — had been stolen along with their keys.

Elkhart police found the Escalade parked behind Milano’s Pizza on South Main Street and the South Bend Police Department found the Solstice on Mishawaka Avenue in South Bend.

Elkhart Police recovered the Lancer parked in a field near Pao’s during a separate theft case on June 27. A Cadillac Escalade in the sales lot was found on blocks with its tires removed. The tires had been rolled through the grass to the Lancer, which had been painted black. The Lancer’s VIN had been altered and the vehicle was impounded by Howard’s Towing.

The towing company received a call from an individual, later found to be Bonds, who wanted to pick up the Lancer. Howard’s Towning was burglarized that night and the Lancer was stolen again.

Bonds admitted to stealing the Lancer in both incidents and said he had removed the car’s VIN and replaced it with a VIN taken from a South Bend scrap yard.

On July 8, a tan GMC Yukon was reported stolen from the sales lot at Begley’s Automomtive, 2611 S. Main St. Another vehicle on the lot, a Chevrolet Impala, had been damaged after someone punched the ignition, but the car would not start. Bonds told police he and another person had pushed the SUV into the St. Joseph River at McNaughton Park. Police pulled the Yukon from the river on Friday, July 12.

Formal charges against Bonds have not been filed. He is scheduled to appear in Elkhart Superior Court 2 on Monday, July 22, and remains at the Elkhart County Jail.

Probable Cause Affidavit for Steven Bonds

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