Cops: Asheville residents fled with log splitter

By DeeAnna Haney | Feb 11, 2014

Four Asheville residents face felony charges after allegedly stealing a log splitter from Lowe's in Waynesville and driving recklessly through town.

Two eyewitnesses who trailed the suspects were key to the subsequent arrests, said Det. John Ryan with the Haywood County Sheriff's Office.

A man in the Lowe's parking lot told police he noticed one of the suspects grab the log splitter worth $1,200 from the sidewalk at the store an drag it to the truck.

When the suspects realized the attachment to the trailer did not fit the hitch on the truck, they improvised, Ryan said.

One man, who was later identified by police as 23-year-old Preston Franklin, sat in the bed of the truck and held onto the chains that were attached to the log splitter as the truck sped out of the Lowe's parking lot.

The driver, later identified as Kristy Franklin, 42, took an illegal left turn across the median heading toward Waynesville on Old Asheville Highway.

Coffin called 9-1-1 and followed the suspects because the truck did not have a visible license plate. David Young, also witnessed the suspects and trailed behind the truck.

The two witnesses told police that Kristy Franklin was speeding through stop signs and traffic lights and driving on the wrong side of the road.

"They were driving recklessly and with great disregard to public safety," Ryan said, adding that the foursome were driving through school traffic around 3 p.m.

Both sheriff's deputies and Waynesville police were dispatched to search for the suspect vehicle, Ryan said.

According to the witnesses, the truck stopped at the Apple Creek Cafe and attempted to unsuccessfully reattach the log splitter and then drove back toward Main Street.

Both witnesses continued to follow the suspects and repeatedly called dispatchers to keep them aware of the truck's location.

Waynesville police finally caught up to the truck and apprehended all four suspects without incident. The other two suspects included 23-year-old Deborah Crowe and 42-year-old Dewey Franklin.

Each suspect faces three felony charges each including larceny, conspiracy to commit felony larceny and possession of stolen goods.

"That was a really brazen act but it was because of the cooperation of eye witnesses who were willing to step forward that helped us catch these criminals," Ryan said.