Convicted auto thief from Indy arrested, accused of stealing Greene County truck

After Greene County Sheriff’s Deputy James Carpenter was notified of a match between the DNA of a convicted auto thief from Indianapolis and DNA found where a truck had been stolen in Greene County, a warrant was issued for the suspect’s arrest. Arrested, the suspect was transferred to Greene County and appeared in court this week.

Joey Phelps

Joey Phelps

The warrant’s been out for the arrest of Joey L. Phelps, 36, Indianapolis, since October 25.

Deputy Carpenter began an investigation into a stolen truck back on May 25 when a rural Bloomfield man reported his truck had been stolen. He said he last saw it, in his driveway, around 9 p.m. the night before but at 8 a.m. on May 25, he’d noticed his black 2005 Chevrolet single-cab 4x4 pickup truck was gone.

When Carpenter responded to the scene, the man pointed out a bicycle on the side of his driveway next to a grass field. He said it didn’t belong to him and it wasn’t there the day before.

Carpenter reported it was a red Trek Navigator 100 bicycle, with a black long-sleeve zip-up shirt hanging off the handlebars. In the pockets, he found a cell phone with a cracked screen, a tire pressure gauge, Allen wrenches, three earrings, a Timex watch without a band, and 55 cents. All items, including the bicycle, were collected as evidence.

The handlebars were removed from the bicycle and sent to the Indiana State Police Lab for DNA and fingerprint analysis.

Information about the truck was entered into the IDACS system - Indiana Data and Communications System, a computerized law enforcement/criminal justice communications and information storage and retrieval system.

Within hours, there was a hit through IDACS that the Marion County Sheriff’s Department had recovered the truck.

Deputy Carpenter later talked to Beech Grove Police Officer Darren McGuire. He had conducted a traffic stop on the truck and Joey Phelps was the driver. Phelps was arrested and the truck was towed. It was impounded in Indy and GCSD put a hold on it.

Later on, in September, the deputy got notice from the lab that a DNA sample taken from the bicycle handlebars resulted in a match with the DNA profile of a convicted offender, Joey Phelps.

In a probable cause affidavit prepared by Carpenter, he notes that Phelps has prior convictions for auto theft in Hamilton County, in Marion County, and in Shelby County.

Now, Phelps is facing a new case in Greene County on preliminary charges of:

  • Auto theft involving theft of the entire vehicle, Level 6 felony, and

  • Receiving stolen auto parts – with a prior conviction, a Level 5 felony.

After filing the criminal case in Greene Circuit Court, Prosecutor Jarrod Holtsclaw filed his intention to seek a habitual felony offender sentence enhancement for a Level 5 felony.

Last Friday, Phelps was transferred from Marion County to Greene County and this week, he appeared in Greene Circuit Court for his initial hearing.