Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Sister Newspapers' News

September 13, 2012

Ice Machine bandit arrested in Florida

DALTON, Ga. – The Ice Machine bandit has been arrested.

John Thomas Steiner Jr., 47, of Chattanooga, Tenn., was arrested by the Wakulla County (Fla.) Sheriff’s Office and charged with criminal mischief, burglary, possession of burglary tools and grand theft.

Officials said he will face charges in possibly dozens of jurisdictions for robbing ice machines in Georgia, Alabama, Florida and Tennessee.

Break-ins at the ice machines usually occurred late at night, it was reported.

Michael Hilton, owner of Polar Ice Express in several northwest Georgia counties, said a Facebook group of business owners helped authorities track down a man who the owners say was systematically stealing money from their ice machines across the South.

“We formed a Facebook group among owners to track this guy as he moved from (ice) house to house to house, looking at where he was hitting and where he was burglarizing,” Hilton said.

By using social media, the business owners learned thousands of dollars went missing over the summer and 61 locations were targeted.

Whitfield County (Ga.) sheriff’s Det. Scott Lance said law enforcement had been working on the crime and then caught a break, which led to the arrest. “We just happened to get lucky down in Florida where they had an alarm system on theirs, and the patrolmen down there were able to catch up,” he said.

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Details for this story were reported by the Dalton (Ga.) Citizen.

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