Arrest in ‘Yellow Store’ heist; 3 stolen from Ford dealer
By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
Atmore Police Chief Chuck Brooks reported this week the arrest in Florida of a man who stole a car from a local convenience store Sunday, February 7, one of two vehicle heists here within 10 days.
The most recent theft occurred at One Choice Grocery, which operates the Speedy gas station-convenience store, known locally as “The Yellow Store,” at the corner of East Nashville Avenue and Medical Park Drive.
According to a press release issued Monday by Brooks, 18-year-old Brandon Kieth [correct spelling] Sheppard of Gilbert. S.C. was arrested by Escambia County (Fla.) sheriff’s deputies in a muddy field off Jones Road, near Nokomis and just inside the Florida line. Atmore police had earlier spotted the stolen truck and given chase, following it across the state line.
Sheppard reportedly had a trio of female passengers with him immediately after he took off in the truck while its owner was inside the store. One of the females jumped out of the pickup at a Florida residence, while the other two escaped after the vehicle got stuck in the field.
“Three females got into the truck from a local motel after the truck was stolen,” Brooks said. “Our investigators were able to determine that they were unaware the male driver stole the truck. He told them he borrowed it.”
According to Escambia County (Fla.) Sheriff’s Office reports, Sheppard refused to get out of the stranded vehicle and was holding the two females against their will. The reports made no mention of a weapon.
The Atmore police chief said Sheppard continued for 45 minutes to try and free the vehicle from the mire but was unable to do so. The females were able to escape during that time. As the suspect made an unsuccessful attempt to flee on foot, the truck’s engine compartment caught fire.
Firefighters from Nokomis and Walnut Hill were called to extinguish the blaze. No mention was made of the amount of damage the truck sustained.
The 18-year-old remained in the Escambia County Jail in Pensacola, Fla. late Monday, without bond. He is charged in Florida with two felony counts of false imprisonment (kidnapping) and one count each of domestic violence-related felony false imprisonment (kidnapping), felony resisting arrest with violence, resisting arrest without violence and possession of a stolen vehicle. He will also face a first-degree property theft charge here, Brooks said.
Brooks also reported that city police are still investigating the January 29 theft of three luxury trucks from Johnson Ford on South Main Street. He said the burglary and theft were committed by “several individuals” who had apparently pilfered pickups before.
“Around 9:30 p.m., the subjects forcefully entered Johnson Ford [to get keys] and took three vehicles,” the police chief said. “They stole a 2020 F250, a 2021 F250 Platinum and a 2019 GMC Yukon Denali. They were in and out in a very short time, and they wore dark clothing, masks and gloves.”
Johnson Ford employees discovered the theft when they opened the dealership on January 30.
Brooks urged anyone who might have information that could help police in their investigation to call 251-368-9141.