Local men charged in art heist
Two Morgan County men have been arrested and charged with stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of art objects and rare musical instruments from a Sandy Creek Road residence. According to Capt. Chris Bish, Investigative Division, Morgan County Sheriff’s Office, the men gained accessed to the house after its 59-year-old owner died. Bish said the men knew the house would be vacant while the man’s out-of-town relatives secured the property and made funeral arrangements.
Joshua Stowe, 21, Madison, who was being tutored in music by the deceased man, and Shaun Timothy Shepherd, 20, Madison, were charged Nov. 1 on two felony counts each of burglary and one felony count of criminal damage to property.
During their arrest at their Spears Road residence, authorities also found a concrete floor cleaning machine and a gas-powered weed eater in a truck at the residence. The items were allegedly stolen from another Spears Road location. The pair were charged in that theft as well.
Bish said family members valued the paintings removed from the Sandy Creek Road residence at more than $200,000. None of the works of art have been recovered, he said, but musical instruments, including violins and electric guitars valued in the tens of thousands of dollars, have been recovered. The commercial, concrete floor cleaning machine was valued at $40,000.
Bish said the Sandy Creek Road burglary occurred sometime between Oct. 18 and Oct. 25. Some of the musical instruments allegedly stolen in the burglary have been recovered from area pawn shops as well as from individuals who told authorities they purchased the instruments from Stowe and Shepherd, Bish said.
Bish said the sheriff’s office investigation revealed that Stowe was a frequent visitor to the Sandy Creek Road house for musical lessons. The deceased man, Bish said, “was a musician and an artist. He probably talked about (the value of the items).”
Both men were on probation at the time of the arrest and both are being held at the Morgan County Detention Facility without bond. Bish said efforts to recover more of the stolen items continues.