A man known to often stay in the Rich Hill area faces felony charges for allegedly stealing a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers truck.
According to online court records, William Swarnes, born 1986, of Elkland, is charged with stealing — motor vehicle/watercraft/aircraft, a class D felony, in Cedar County Circuit Court.
The probable cause statement said a Cedar County Sheriff's Office deputy was dispatched to Woody’s Fast Stop in Stockton on Friday, July 29, in reference to a stolen vehicle.
Per the statement, a Corps employee had parked his work truck — a 2020 Ford F-150 — on the west side of Woody’s Fast Stop before he entered the store.
When the Corps employee returned to his vehicle outside, he discovered that Swarnes had entered the Corps truck and was now speeding away with it. The employee yelled at Swarnes as he sped from the parking lot to the stop sign at Route J and Mo. 32 and continued east on Mo. 32, per the statement.
Upon arrival at Woody’s Fast Stop, the responding CCSO deputy obtained a video and still photographs of Swarnes at Woody’s, which showed the suspect discarding a yellow Dollar General bag in a dumpster.
The deputy retrieved the Dollar General bag, which contained snacks. The deputy later obtained a video and still photographs of the suspect purchasing those items at Dollar General in Stockton at around 9:37 a.m. earlier that morning.
“At that time, (Swarnes) told Dollar General clerks he had just got out of jail and was trying to get a ride to Rich Hill,” the statement said. “The items purchased (at Dollar General) were the same items that were thrown in the dumpster just prior to stealing the truck.”
CCSO deputies viewed the alleged footage of Swarnes at Dollar General and recognized his identity.
Shortly after noon on Friday — less than two hours after the vehicle theft in Stockton — the Corps truck was recovered in Rich Hill.
Minutes after the vehicle was recovered, Swarnes was arrested in Rich Hill and transported to the Cedar County Sheriff’s Office.
Swarnes had changed clothes, but the same clothes he was allegedly wearing during the vehicle theft were recovered from the arrest location, per the statement.
Additionally, the statement said Swarnes also confessed to deputies that he stole the truck.
If convicted, Swarnes faces up to seven years in prison.