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8-year-old helps bust major theft ring

Posted on Friday, March 23, 2012 at 11:33 am

By Wayne Thomas

Staff Writer

An 8-year-old Manchester boy is receiving much attention this week for the part he played in breaking up a multi-state burglary operation involving thousands of dollars worth of stolen items.

Theft ring

Staff photo by Wayne Thomas - Investigators from the Coffee and Franklin County Sheriff’s Departments were busy Wednesday sifting through thousands of items that were recovered from a motel room in Manchester. A Virginia man was arrested after an 8-year-old was able to lead investigators to the whereabouts of the thieves through a computer-tracking program on his stolen iPad. Sgt. Danny Ferrell says that investigators recovered computers, jewelry, iPads, guitars, leaf blowers, cameras, guns and more when they entered the motel room According to Ferrell, the thefts were made in several middle Tennessee counties, as well as Virginia and Florida.

According to Coffee County sheriff’s investigators, several hundred items of all kinds were recovered from a room in a Manchester motel.

Although other arrests are expected, only one person, John Docherty, 46, of Virginia, has been charged.

Sheriff’s investigator Sgt. Danny Ferrell said the break came when Manchester resident Richard Crabtree reported that his iPad had been stolen during a burglary and that his 8-year-old son Landon knew how to trace it through the iPad’s security tracking system.

Landon, who afterwards was quoted as saying he wants to be an FBI agent, told his dad that the tracking device indicated the iPad was in the Ambassador Motel.

Landon, in an interview with News Channel 5, said he wants to be an FBI agent and added that “nobody better mess with my family.”

His mother, Kristy, said in the interview that she was in shock that “an 8-year-old could do something like that” and that she hadn’t thought of it.

Ferrell also was astounded.

“He gave us the location where the iPad could be found and when we went to the Ambassador Motel where [suspects] were staying, we found the iPad and a whole room full of items,” Ferrell said.

He noted that among the items found in the room were guns, cameras, jewelry, computers, iPads, guitars, Xboxes, weed trimmers and numerous other articles.

Ferrell said Docherty, who was accompanied by juveniles, was allegedly involved in numerous burglaries in Coffee and Franklin counties.

“We have also found items that were stolen in Franklin, Brentwood and Maury County,” he said. “We are continuing to find more items stolen from other areas, including Virginia and Florida.”

According to Ferrell, a fugitive from justice warrant was issued for Docherty from Florida for theft.

Deputies Kerry Farrar, James Sherrill and Jason Dendy joined Ferrell in confiscating the items from the motel room.

Investigators from Coffee and Franklin counties were sifting through the goods Wednesday in an attempt to track down their owners.

“We are just trying to find the owners of the items and what jurisdiction they came from,” Ferrell said.

While deputies were checking each piece, Capt. Frank Watkins was entering the items into the national crime computer to determine if they had been reported missing.

Docherty is being held under $100,000 bond on a charge of aggravated burglary and under a $500,000 fugitive from justice bond. He is scheduled to appear in Coffee County General Sessions Court April 9.


– Wayne Thomas may be reached by email at