HAZARD — When volunteers were collecting donations for the Kentucky Regional Animal Shelter (KRAS) near the Sazon Mexican Restaurant in Hazard on Thursday, they didn’t expect for someone to steal the donations and a volunteer’s cell phone.
Hazard Police Department say Charles Gabbard, 36, of Hazard pulled up to volunteers who were collecting donations for KRAS in a black Dodge truck and acted like he was going to donate money. Instead, HPD say Gabbard grabbed the bucket, which had a volunteer’s cell phone inside, and sped off.
HPD contacted the carrier of the volunteer’s cell phone and requested a ping of the location. During this time, HPD say a witness reported a black Dodge truck pulling out from a dirt road on Hwy. 80 and heading east at a high rate of speed.
Maj. James East, along with other HPD officers, were patrolling Hwy. 476 and Hwy. 550 when they observed a truck that matched the description of the one that Gabbard was driving on the intersection near 1146 and 550.
Officers conducted a traffic stop on the black Dodge truck.
Gabbard was behind the wheel of the truck.
HPD officers were able to locate the cell phone and the donation bucket, but not the donations, about 50 yards up a dirt road on Hwy. 80. Officers also found fresh tire imprints on the dirt road. They photographed and measured them for evidence.
According to HPD, the tire imprints were a match to Gabbard’s truck.
Gabbard was detained and taken to HPD for questioning.
During the interrogation, HPD say Gabbard confessed to stealing the donation bucket after HPD confronted him with the evidence.
He also told them where he hid the money, HPD say.
HPD found the money in a plastic bag hidden under the spare tire in the bed of Gabbard’s truck.
They were able to recover $147.
Gabbard was transported to Kentucky River Regional Jail where he was lodged in.
He is facing charges of theft by unlawful taking more than $500 and tampering with physical evidence.
Patrolman Jacob Miller is in charge of the investigation.
TJ Caudill is a reporter for The Hazard Herald and he can be reached at 606-329-3245.