The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


September 16, 2011

Wife: Hubby didn’t steal ATVs from flood water

SUNBURY — Autumn Truelove claims her husband was aiding a flood victim when he plucked two all-terrain vehicles from the swollen Shamokin Creek on Sept. 9 and was stunned when he was arrested on felony theft charges.

“No good deed goes unpunished,” she said as she waited with their two youngest children to learn his fate Thursday morning at a preliminary hearing before Senior District Judge Richard P. Cashman.

The hearing was waived and Michael D. Truelove, 30, of 1300 Market St., was freed after spending nearly a week in Northumberland County Prison in lieu of $70,000 cash bail.

Two charges each of felony theft and receiving stolen property will be dropped if he successfully completes the accelerated rehabilitative disposition program offered to first-time offenders.

“It’s what the victim wants and the property was recovered,” Assistant District Attorney Ann Targonski said. “However, one can’t take advantage of someone else’s disadvantage.”

Three ATVs washed away from Super Autos, Route 61, in Upper Augusta Township, during the flood at a time when Northumberland County was under a state of emergency.

State police at Stonington Cpl. George Ritchey said there were a few reports of looting of items scattered into flood water last week, but no other charges have been levied.

Truelove, who was accompanied by his wife and 10-year-old daughter, was caught by state police at Stonington removing one of the ATVs after law enforcement received a tip that a theft was taking place in the area. Another ATV was recovered from his home.

Super Autos owner Robert Hupp said he doesn’t know what Truelove’s intentions were, but he didn’t want to press charges.

“I don’t believe the ATVs were on my property,” Hupp said, certain they had floated away with the rising water. “I was surprised they threw the book at him.”

Autumn Truelove said she, her husband and their children, a 3-year-old boy and 10-year-old girl, were checking out the rising creek when they overheard two juveniles talking about stealing the vehicles the couple knew belonged to the area business.

They sprang into action and recovered two ATVs from near the creek at the railroad tracks, planning to return them to Super Autos.

“We thought we might even get a reward,” she said.

In hindsight, Autumn Truelove said, she regrets not calling police first.

The family has faced quite a bit of trauma in the past few weeks.

They had been living in North Carolina for two years when they lost nearly everything in Hurricane Irene two weeks ago.

“We came back here with three kids, a dog and our clothes in a pickup truck,” she said.

Along the way, they reached out to help others affected by the hurricane, including giving a stranded motorist a push to a gasoline station.

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