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Two Jefferson County men, Brad Fisher and Kenneth Ratliff, were arrested in Louisville on theft-related charges in connection with a trailer containing disaster relief equipment that was stolen Thursday night from the parking lot of Simpsonville Baptist Church.
Simpsonville Police Chief Chip Minnis said that the theft came to the attention of law enforcement when Simpsonville Fire Chief Ronnie Sowers received an anonymous phone call about it.
“The trailer was damaged [during the theft], and they [Fisher and Ratliff] tried to get it fixed, and I think the person that they got to repair it got suspicious,” Minnis said.
Bob Perkins, a volunteer for the Shelby County Baptist Association Disaster Relief Team, said he thought suspicion arose because the trailer was designated as belonging to a church.
“They [Fisher and Ratliff] had taken the disaster relief decals off, but they left the Long Run Baptist Association decals on it,” he said.
Minnis said the trailer was recovered by Louisville Metro Police and returned to the church, although minus the equipment stored inside.
Perkins said the Baptist association was glad to get it back, but he said he doesn’t think the damage to the axle is repairable.
“We have taken it to be fixed, but we don’t know yet if that’s possible,” he said. “Also, there was almost seven thousand dollars worth of disaster relief equipment in there, including two generators, nine chain saws, wheel barrows, power tools, hand tools, just a whole lot of stuff that we have used all over the place. I’ll bet we have been to at least sixteen different disaster sites with that trailer.”
Some of those disaster sites have included the tornado destruction in West Liberty last year, as well as the east coast after Hurricane Sandy, and even the site of the World Trade Center disaster in New York on September 11.
“Well, the Baptist association is meeting tonight, and we’ll try to get it turned into the insurance, so maybe we might be able to replace some of the equipment,” he said. “But as for the trailer, well, we just don’t know.”
Perkins said he has learned from experience that the situation may not be hopeless concerning the trailer.
“God does provide,” he said. “He always opens his arms when someone is in need, and I don’t think he’ll let us down now. In fact, we’ve had one person offer to pay to have it repaired, if it can be.”