A Hocking County man was arrested by the Athens County Sheriff’s Office recently after allegedly attempting to steal multiple items, including two vans and six laptops, from Nelsonville’s Hopewell Reach Program facility, and then allegedly setting one of those vans on fire.
Christopher Withem, 38, of Carbon Hill, so far has been charged with a four-degree felony count of arson, two fourth-degree felony counts of theft, one third-degree felony count of tampering with evidence, and one fourth-degree felony count of receiving stolen property, according to Athens County Municipal Court records. Withem is being held at Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail on a $100,000 bond.
According to a press release from the Athens County Sheriff’s Office sent Tuesday, Hopewell reported somebody had stolen a 2018 Toyota Seinna Van, a 2006 Ford Econoline Van, six laptops, four iPhones and a backpack from its Nelsonville facility on Kimberly Road, after likely entering through an unlocked rear door.
“On this same date, (Ohio State Highway Patrol) and the State Fire Marshall responded to a burning vehicle on Ten Spot Road,” the release reads. “This burning vehicle was determined to be the stolen 2018 Toyota Sienna Van. The Ford Econoline was later located on Pedigo Road, back on an access road near power lines with the hood up and the battery was missing. There was a strong odor of gasoline about the vehicle, and it was determined that the vehicle had been doused in gasoline; however, (it) was not lit.”
Due to camera footage located inside that vehicle, police identified Withem and arrested him after he was interviewed by Sheriff’s Office and State Fire Marshal officials. He reportedly “surrendered information” on the stolen property and the identity of another man and woman involved in the theft incident.
“The female was located and provided valuable information to the whereabouts of some stolen property from the theft at Hopewell,” the release reads. “The female also disclosed valuable information during this interview regarding multiple other current theft investigations.”
The release doesn’t reveal whether any charges were filed against that woman.
The investigation is ongoing, according to the release, and more charges are expected to be submitted to an Athens County Grand Jury.