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‘New’ officer nails theft suspects

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2nd week on patrol, Simpsonville patrolman recovers $23K in items

By Lisa King

A newly sworn-in Simpsonville Police officer has already distinguished himself with his first substantial felony arrest, nabbing two Bullitt County men and returning more than $23,000 in stolen items back to the owners within a matter of hours.

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“Whew, I am telling you, I was surprised and very pleased,” Simpsonville Police Chief Chip Minnis said.

Terry Putnam, just hired in early October and in his second week of patrol, was working third shift – a common practice for new officers – when he noticed a suspicious vehicle in the construction site at where the Outlet Shoppes of Louisville are being built on the south side of Interstate 64, Minnis said.

“He spotted tail lights moving around the construction site, and when he went to investigate, they ran from him,” Minnis said.

But Putnam, a former officer with the Shelbyville Police Department, caught up with the two men in the pickup truck before the pursuit could escalate into a high-speed chase.

Putnam said the pair, Chad Black, 36, and Keith Mullins, 33, both of Mount Washington, had tried to flee down Veechdale Road but couldn’t elude him.

“As soon as they saw me, they took off with their lights off, and I had to do a U-turn, and they took off quite quickly, going west on Veechdale over the railroad tracks,” he said. “But they had a lot of weight in their truck, and they weren’t familiar with that roadway back there [which has a very sharp turn], and I think that scared the heck out of them. It didn’t take too terribly long to get them pulled over.”

Putnam said that in addition, the pickup was a 1991 model and couldn’t handle a heavy load, anyway.

“Police work is a lot of patrol and a lot of luck,” he said.

Mullins and Black were charged with theft by unlawful taking under $10,000, but that was changed to more than $10,000 as the investigation evolved, Putnam said.

Mullins and Black were released on bond Thursday night from the Shelby County Detention Center.

“We found another location where they had already taken one truckload,” he said. “The Bullitt County Sheriff’s office assisted in going there and helping to attain probably another ten thousand or better of items that they had stolen, and we recovered them and returned them to their owners this morning.”

The stolen items included $12,000 worth of copper wiring taken from a tractor-trailer parked at the construction site, as well as “a ton” of hand tools, such as saws, drywall and other construction items taken from several construction pods, Putnam said.

“Sgt. [Tim] Hurt and myself, we did what we needed to do last night,” he said, referring to another Simpsonville officer who backed him up on the call. He and Hurt also had served together previously at Shelbyville.

Putnam, 52, is a Michigan native who in 2009 moved to Shelby County from Florida with his wife, Constance, a teacher at Clear Creek Elementary, and son, Vincent, a student at Collins. Putnam was a deputy sheriff for two years in a small community just north of Tampa and before that a police officer in Honolulu for nine years after completing a military tour of duty.

Minnis said Thursday that when he heard about the arrest he was glad it went down the way it did.

“I’m glad that we were able to apprehend the suspects and that no one got hurt, and especially glad there was no high-speed chase,” he said.

Putnam said he wanted to put the word out to would-be criminals and the public alike that he intends to patrol the streets of Simpsonville with diligence.

“I just want to let everybody know that I, and the rest of us, are here to deter crime as much as we can,” he said.