More than $1,400 worth of stolen quarters recovered by police

Kentucky

Four of five suspects who police believe are part of an air machine quarter theft ring are in custody after more than $1,400 worth of stolen change was recovered. One is still on the run. 

According to the Lexington Police Department, it was on St. Patrick’s Day that the change came tumbling down at a Speedway gas station, when a patrol officer observed Joseph Estep taking money from an air machine. Then, Estep was seen getting into a truck that was driven by Melissa Lear. 

Police made a move, stopping the getaway truck and making contact with the two. It was then approximately $10 worth of quarters fell from Estep’s lap – as he exited the truck. 

Police searched the vehicle and found even more change – hundreds of dollars more in quarters, police say, along with a stolen license plate, pliers and other tools. 

In total, police recovered $1,452 in connection to the thefts from gas station air pumps. 

Estep and Lear, who police say are a couple, are also friends of three other men accused of similar recent stolen change crimes: Wesley Jackson, who was arrested Monday in Richmond, Ky. on a theft warrant; Jackson is believed to have learned his air-machine busting skills from Steven Pelfrey, who was arrested by Lexington police earlier this month on a similar charge. His cousin, Nathan Pelfrey, still has an active warrant for theft by unlawful taking, police say. 

Anyone with information regarding Nathan Pelfrey’s whereabouts is asked to call Lexington Police at 859-258-3600.

The five suspects are alleged to have broken into various coin-operated (mainly quarters) air machines or pumps over the past several months. 

So, to reiterate the who-did-what, the suspects and charges are as follows:

Joseph Michael Estep, 37

  • 2 counts Criminal Mischief 3rd
  • Possession of Burglary Tools
  • Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
  • 3 counts of Theft by Unlawful Taking
  • Theft of Motor Vehicle Registration Plate

Melissa Lear, 33

  • 2 counts Criminal Mischief 3rd
  • Possession of Burglary Tools
  • 2 counts of Theft by Unlawful Taking
  • Theft of Motor Vehicle Registration Plate

Wesley Jackson, 40

  • Theft by Unlawful Taking

Steven Pelfrey, 44

  • Criminal Mischief 3rd 
  • 2 counts Theft by Unlawful Taking

Nathan Pelfrey, 34

  • Active warrants for Criminal Mischief 3rd and Theft by Unlawful Taking.

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