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Man charged with damage to stolen utility vehicle

A Pike County man has been arrested a second time in connection with a burglary that occurred in February.

According to deputies, Steven Phelps, 34, spent his Valentine’s Day breaking into a barn off of Alabama Highway 223, where he made off with multiple items including an ATV and a Polaris Ranger utility vehicle (UTV).

Phelps’ truck reportedly got stuck in the mud while he was allegedly burglarizing the property and he told officials he took the four-wheeler to get some items to help “weigh the truck down.”

At that time, he was charged with first-degree theft of property and third-degree burglary.

He has now been charged with first-degree criminal mischief for the damage done to the UTV when deputies claim he hotwired the vehicle.

“When he hotwired it, he shorted out the computer,” said Lt. Troy Johnson, lead investigator on the burglary. “We were just waiting on the estimate for how much it would cost to fix it before charging him with this to see what degree it should be.”

The estimate came in at over $7,500 of damage, well exceeding the threshold for the first-degree distinction, which is applied to criminal damage done over $2,500.

Deputies picked up Phelps on the charge Monday.

The first-degree theft of property charge is a Class B Felony punishable by up to 20 years if convicted. Both third-degree burglary and first-degree criminal mischief are Class C felonies punishable by up to 10 years in prison.