Stolen items found inside Hilltop van, affidavit says

Dartanin Mitchell

Police in Tennessee on Sunday found three laptop computers, 10 cell phones and an air pistol inside a van believed stolen last month from Hilltop Community Resources by a former employee, according to court records.

The Chevrolet van was registered stolen from Grand Junction when a Memphis Police Department officer ran the license plate around 4 p.m. Sunday, according to an affidavit in the case of 33-year-old Dartanin Mitchell.

The van was flagged after it passed through a “registration checkpoint” on a street in Memphis on Sunday, the affidavit said. A spokesperson with the Memphis Police Department did not return phone calls seeking information about the checkpoint.

In Grand Junction, police in May announced the deployment of technology that allows officers to track license plate numbers with a device that scans plates as vehicles go by. The license plate readers can be used while police are patrolling or while patrol cars are stationary.

It wasn’t known, however, if the same technology was used Sunday in Memphis.

According to the affidavit, when the van was determined stolen, two officers surrounded it at a gas station. Mitchell’s wife, Jennifer, 23, was in the driver’s seat and Mitchell was outside, pumping gas, the affidavit said.

Dartanin Mitchell ran from the officers, who eventually lost track of him, the affidavit said. A police dog flushed Mitchell from a crawl space of a home and he was arrested.

The Mitchells are expected to make first court appearances today and are being held without bond on suspicion of theft of public property, according to Shelby County Jail records.

Dartanin Mitchell has been wanted in Grand Junction since he failed to appear at a court hearing Sept. 27. The case stemmed from a burglary June 3 at Mitchell’s then-workplace, Family First, a parent assistance program operated by Hilltop at the Mesa County Workforce Center, 2897 North Ave.

Mitchell, an employee of Family First, was fired by Hilltop on June 8.

Mitchell allegedly refused to return a vehicle which the group had allowed him to borrow, according to court records.

Free on bond while still facing burglary and theft and auto-theft charges, Mitchell allegedly burglarized the same building and stole more cash, vouchers and a Chevrolet van in the pre-dawn hours of Sept. 24.


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