Woman receives 10 years for theft

The use of electronic tracking technology has led to a 10-year prison sentence for one of two people arrested in a burglary that occurred more than a year ago south of Seymour.

Heather Ann Gonzalez, 32, of Seymour recently received that sentence from Jackson Circuit Judge Richard W. Poynter after pleading guilty to a Class B felony charge of burglary in connection with the May 29, 2014, break-in.

Gonzalez and her husband, Jaime Vasquez, each initially were charged with burglary, Class D felony charges of theft, maintaining a common nuisance and neglect of a dependent, and a Class A misdemeanor charge of possession of marijuana. The other charges were dismissed against Gonzalez as part of a plea agreement.

Vasquez is scheduled to stand trial at 8:30 a.m. Nov. 17 in Jackson Circuit Court.

The pair and a third person were arrested after police received a report from a Seymour woman that someone had taken two flat-screen televisions, a Dell laptop computer, an iPhone, an iPad and a hard drive from the home, according to the probable cause affidavit signed by Jackson County Reserve Officer Scott Davis.

The woman told police her father had tracked the missing iPad and iPhone to a motel on the city’s east side, and they were following a black Ford passenger car containing the iPad after someone had driven away from that motel.

Seymour Officer Crystal Schapson stopped the car at Miller Lane and Oak Street and initially issued the driver of that vehicle, Gonzalez, a traffic violation for not properly signaling a turn.

Davis said he then arrived at the scene and received consent from Gonzalez to search the vehicle.

During that search, the iPad was found. Gonzalez initially said it belonged to a Crothersville man she knew.

She said she had recently taken him to a home near Seymour.

The man, who told her it was the home of a relative, went to the back of the home and then came back with the iPad, Gonzalez told police.

When questioned by police, that man said he knew nothing about the burglary and had loaned Gonzalez and Vasquez his car so they could visit a family member in Louisville, Kentucky.

Police later questioned Vasquez, who was found in a room at the same motel with the couple’s 4-month-old child, about his role in the burglary.

He denied any know- ledge of the burglary, Davis said.

The child was turned over to the Jackson County Department of Child Services.

Davis said he and county Detective Rick Blaker Jr. then obtained search warrants from Jackson Superior Court II Judge Bruce MacTavish for the motel room and an apartment on East Oak Street in Seymour where the couple and their son also had been staying.

During a search of the motel room, police reported finding marijuana, rolling papers and an iPhone taken in the burglary. During the search of the apartment, police reported finding the missing hard drive, laptop computer and one of the flat-screen televisions.

Sheriff Michael Carothers said the victim’s decision to pursue the items stolen through tracking technology is helpful to county police who are called upon to investigate 2,000 to 3,000 cases a year.

He said it’s not much different than people who might go to a pawnshop in search of items that were stolen from their residence.

“They know what they are looking for,” he said.

Gonzalez also received a half-year sentence after she pleaded guilty to battery in an unrelated case that occurred in jail after her arrest in the burglary investigation. That sentence stems from two fights with another inmate in April. The two bit each other during that fight and were taken to the emergency room at Schneck Medical Center in Seymour as a precaution.

The two sentences will be served consecutively, and Poynter did not suspend any of the time on either sentence, which he issued Aug. 25. He did give Gonzalez 453 days credit for time served and an additional 453 days credit time.