UPDATE 2/13/23 — Crouse had his $25,000 bond posted. He pleaded not guilty on Feb. 3. He has a criminal setting scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on April 18.
Original story, published Feb. 2, 2023:
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A man was arrested on Feb. 1 on suspicion of stealing multiple vehicles from the Springfield area.
Charles Lynn Crouse, 64, of Springfield, was formally charged with four felonies: two counts of first-degree tampering with a motor vehicle and two counts of money laundering.
According to court documents, police received information from an informant about him helping a car thief steal three vehicles in November 2022. The person he helped was stealing the vehicles on a nightly basis and selling them to an older man. The older man would load them up on trailers and sell them for scrap.
The informant told police that the car thief he assisted was only one of multiple people selling vehicles to the older man. The police began to surveil an area where the car thief was known to visit.
On Jan. 17, police saw the car thief and Crouse loading a stolen 2003 Chevrolet Express van onto Crouse’s trailer.
On Jan. 19, Crouse returned to the same location. He and an unknown man loaded a Dodge Avenger onto the trailer. The police followed Crouse to All Metal Recycling on West Division Street and watched him sell it for scrap.
On Jan. 24, police got a search warrant that allowed them to place a GPS tracker on Crouse’s truck. The police drove by Crouse’s house on Jan. 26 and saw a stolen 2000 Lincoln LS on his trailer. The tracker showed he took the Lincoln to All Metal Recycling. Two more vehicles were taken to the metal recycling company on Jan. 27.
On Jan. 31, police confronted All Metal Recycling’s owner. He told police that Crouse had been selling him vehicles for years. After looking at receipts, it was estimated that Crouse had sold 60 vehicles to his business between Oct. 3, 2022, and Jan. 27, 2023.
The owner said he was not receiving titles for the vehicles but that Crouse would give him bills of sale for the vehicles. However, he was only able to provide police with bills of sale for two of the 60 vehicles. One of the bills of sale was connected to a 1991 Ford Ranger that had been reported as stolen three days before Crouse sold it to him.
The sales receipts the owner provided police only showed the weight of the vehicles being scrapped and how much money was exchanged for them, making it difficult to identify the vehicles Clouse sold to him.
There is a process for selling vehicles for scrap. The owner was found to not be following this process. The lack of reporting on All Metal Recycling’s part led police to believe that “there was a deliberate effort made by All Metal Recycling to selectively fail to enter the transactions involving Crouse.”
Crouse was arrested at All Metal Recycling. He was towing a 2005 Nissan Altima.
Crouse has a criminal history dating back 42 years in which he was convicted of transporting stolen vehicles and burglary.