Burning vehicles lead to arrest

A 37-year-old man faces at least five charges related to the report of a stolen car burning in a field Thursday afternoon west of Crothersville.

Keith Ryan Sterling of Seymour was arrested on two Level 6 felony counts of possession of stolen property, one Level 6 felony count of criminal trespassing on agricultural property and Class A misdemeanor counts of criminal mischief to agricultural property and false informing, according to a news release from the Crothersville Police Department.

Sterling was arrested nearly three hours after dispatch received a report at 4:28 p.m. of a vehicle on fire in the 7000 block of East County Road 650S, Chief Brent Turner reported.

The incident began when Crothersville officers, officers with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department and Indiana State Police troopers responded to the vehicles.

Officers arriving at the scene reported finding a 2001 Chrysler minivan and a 2004 Volkswagen Jetta burning.

The owner of the van, Jeremy Verble, said he had been towing the Jetta from the field when his van caught fire and the fire eventually spread to the Jetta, Turner said.

Verble told police the driver of the Jetta had fled into the woods.

A search for that person, later identified as Sterling, was launched.

During the investigation of the burning vehicles, police discovered the Jetta was stolen from Indianapolis and the license plate on it had been stolen from another vehicle in Batesville.

At 7:28 p.m Thursday, police received information about a man, possibly matching Sterling’s description, in the 7700 block of South County Road 500E, Turner said.

Crothersville Capt. J.L. McElfresh responded to the area and spotted a man walking in a yard in the 7200 block of South County Road 550E, police said.

The man gave McElfresh a fake name and birth date, but Sterling eventually was identified through a photo.

Crothersville officers still are investigating the incident.

A Level 6 felony is punishable by six months to two and a half years in prison upon conviction.

Others assisting with the investigation and search for Sterling included county Lt. Darin Downs, county officers Rob Henley, Rick Meyer and Adam Nicholson, county Reserve Officer Charlie Murphy and Sgt. Stephen Wheeles, public information officer with the Indiana State Police Versailles Post.