Opelika Police have arrested and charged 32-year-old Joshua Blanton Smith of Selma with theft of property in the first degree after stealing more than 1,000 gallons of fuel from the East Alabama Paving Company on December 28.
With the help of the public and surveillance video photos, Smith was quickly apprehended by authorities.
"Those photographs were disseminated to various media outlets and through those pictures being seen, several individuals contacted the Opelika Police Department and advised us to the identity or owner of the vehicle," explains Captain Bruce DeLong of the Opelika Police Department.
Smith was contacted by authorities Friday afternoon, and later went to the Opelika Police Department where he was interviewed and arrested.
Smith was then transferred to the Lee County Detention center, but posted a $5,000 bond later that evening.
Not only are authorities investigating the theft, they are also looking into whether or not the stolen fuel was sold.
"There are some indications that some of the fuel that was stolen was sold by the individual that stole the fuel. However, I don't know what point in the investigation investigators are with those leads," says DeLong.
If it is determined that Smith sold the fuel to an individual who was aware it was a stolen product, the buyer could face charges.
"It was wonderful to, number one, get a hold of surveillance photographs, and have them disseminated so quickly where someone would recognize this individual we could bring this investigation to a quick conclusion," explains DeLong.
We will keep you updated on this investigation as more details unfold.
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