The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

December 1, 2009

Police apprehend suspects in ATV dealership robbery

By MARGIE TRAX PAGE - Staff Writer - mtrax@starbeacon.com

GENEVA TOWNSHIP — Two men caught stealing three all-terrain vehicles from a local dealership each will face three counts of theft, three counts of receiving stolen property, and breaking and entering, Western County Court records show.

George Dunavant, 18, of Austinburg Township, and Brian Lee Sullivan, 23, of Perry, were captured early Sunday morning with a stolen Suzuki Eiger, a Yamaha F-450 and a Yamaha Grizzly, police reports show.

A Geneva woman driving on Route 20 early Sunday morning put a stop to a major theft at a local motorcycle and ATV dealership, Geneva police reports show. Two four-wheeled ATVs and a minivan pulled out of North Ridge Yamaha at 6:30 a.m. Sunday, lights off and traveling at a high rate of speed, the woman told officers. The scene seemed a little odd to the woman, who was driving down Route 20 at the same time, so she called police, which triggered a successful 30-minute manhunt, police reports show.

Geneva police officers, Ashtabula County sheriff’s deputies and Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers searched the area, including Walter Main Road, police reports show.

As the search began, a dispatcher remembered a similar incident on Nov. 22, when a van of the same description was seen leaving North Ridge Yamaha as officers responded to a burglar alarm at the dealership, police reports show. Officers found a broken window at the dealership that day but listed no suspects or offenses on the police report.

The driver, who was not charged in the Nov. 22 incident, told officers he was “dropping off friends” and gave the officers Sullivan and Dunavant’s names. Neither Sullivan nor Dunavant was charged with attempted break-in, police reports show. The dispatcher relayed the suspect van’s registration number to officers Sunday, and the vehicle was stopped, ending the search, police reports show.

The van driver was not charged in the incident on Sunday, court records show.

At North Ridge Yamaha, officers found the back door of the shop had been removed and noted fresh ATV tire marks in the mud, police reports show.

Dunavant’s name has been on the suspect list of several police reports recently, all involving ATV thefts or riding ATVs on roads or private property, Geneva police reports show. Dunavant was also a suspect in the low-speed mostly off-road chase through the city on Nov. 3, which ended after a police cruiser became stuck in the mud, police reports show. No charges were filed in that incident, court records show.

Geneva Police Chief Dan Dudik said the charges against Sullivan and Dunavant were filed through the Ashtabula County Sheriff’s Department and the pair will face no direct charges through the city’s police department.

Dudik praised the Geneva woman who called police Sunday.

“A large percentage of our captures are things someone reports,” he said. “The officers don’t usually roll up on something. We count on citizens who report suspicious activity.”