Columbus police officers have recovered about $100,000 worth of stolen property and arrested two people after discovering hundreds of stolen items in a garage and storage unit.

The investigation began with a traffic stop earlier this month after Officer Drake Maddix was sent to a call about a suspicious vehicle in the 2800 block of Riverside Drive. Maddix, assisted by other Columbus police officers and Bartholomew County Sheriff’s deputies, identified the vehicle’s occupants as Brian J. Stewart, 35, Columbus and Norma J. Holley, 34, Columbus, said Lt. Matt Harris, Columbus Police Department spokesman.

Brian J. Stewart
Brian J. Stewart
Norma J. Holley
Norma J. Holley

Officers saw that the vehicle was filled with items including jewelry, dishes and clothing, Harris said.

After determining the couple did not have permission to be on the property where the vehicle was found, Stewart attempted to flee in the vehicle, but he and Holley were stopped and arrested, Harris said.

Officers recovered a 9 mm handgun from under the vehicle’s front passenger seat, Harris said. After obtaining a search warrant for the vehicle, officers found 70 syringes, methamphetamine and a number of stolen items that police were able to trace back to thefts and burglaries in Columbus, Edinburgh, Franklin, Seymour, Freetown and Whiteland, Harris said.

Officers served a search warrant at a Columbus storage facility where they recovered a large amount of stolen property including Social Security cards, passports and mail, as well as tools and lawn equipment reported stolen in two 2017 Columbus burglaries. Police also recovered stereo equipment reported stolen in a 2016 Bartholomew County burglary.

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When serving a third search warrant at a garage in the 1400 block of Lafayette Ave where police said Stewart and Holley were storing stolen items, they found stolen flat screen televisions and a 12-gauge shotgun later traced back to other burglaries outside of Bartholomew County. A stolen vehicle from Rensselaer was also recovered, Harris said.

Holley and Stewart were arrested on felony charges of possession of a legend drug injection device, possession of methamphetamine, possession of a controlled substance, receiving stolen auto parts and three counts of theft, Harris said. They also were charged with misdemeanor charges of possession of a handgun without a license, trespassing and three counts of conversion.

For more on this story, see Saturday’s Republic.

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Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at jmcclure@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5631.