A junior gumshoe was honored by the Stephenville City Council Tuesday.
Stephenville resident Quinton Whitfield, 15, was recognized for helping the Stephenville Police Department catch an alleged trailer thief and recover a neighbor's stolen property.
According to Police Chief Patrick Bridges, Stephenville resident Bobby Stidham reported the theft of a utility trailer from his residence on July 21. Less than 24 hours later, Stidham called the police department to follow up on the report.
"The following day, Mr. Stidham reported to Detective Sgt. James Gresham that his neighbor, Whitfield, had possibly located the stolen trailer on Craigslist," Bridges said.
Craigslist is an Internet-based classified service, which has been at the center of several criminal investigations across the nation.
Bridges said once the teenager learned that Stidham's property had been stolen, he began searching through more than 1,000 trailers that were listed on the website. Bridges said the teen's investigation closed in on one advertisement, which provided a description of the trailer and a potential match, but did not include a photo.
"Mr. Whitfield was able to narrow the list down to one particular trailer," Bridges said, adding that the junior detective contacted the listed seller and was able to obtain photographs of the trailer.
Following up on the report, Gresham said he worked off the information obtained by Whitfield to set an appointment with the individual attempting to sell the trailer. Gresham said after he made arrangements to purchase the trailer at a Temple parking lot, he contacted the Temple Police Department and a Texas Ranger for assistance.
Gresham said he and Stidham made the trip to Temple and were able to identify the trailer, which the seller brought to the arranged meeting, despite the seller's attempt to conceal its identity.
Gresham said the seller, William Garrett, 50, claimed he had purchased the trailer from an auction, but police were able to determine that the suspect had a history of theft.
In fact, Gresham said after Garrett was linked to the Stephenville theft, he was incarcerated in Milam County on a motion to revoke his probation for a previous trailer theft.
Gresham said once his Milam County issues are resolved, Garrett will be transported to Erath County to face local theft charges.
Meanwhile, law enforcement officials and the Stephenville City Council are applauding Whitfield's efforts.
"If it weren't for Quinton, there is no telling where that trailer would be," Gresham said. "He would make a wonderful detective."
Bridges said Whitfield took the idea of a Neighborhood Watch to the next level.
"What Mr. Whitfield did, getting involved, is something you don't see from many people," Bridges said. "His actions speak volumes about the young man."