CHURCH HILL - A man who
took 11 drain grates from two different Church Hill car washes, putting potential customers at risk
for damaging their vehicles, faces criminal charges. Joel Brian Morelock, 26,
414 Grassy Creek Road, Rogersville, is charged with two counts of theft over $500.
On November 30, at approximately 5:30 p.m., Church Hill Police Chief Mark Johnson said he was
flagged down by a witness who stated that all of the metal drain grates had been stolen from the
Quick Car Wash, on West Main Boulevard. The witness provided a
description of a vehicle he had previously seen “messing around” the car wash, an older two-tone
dark blue/light blue Chevrolet truck. Johnson proceeded to the car wash to confirm the theft
and issued BOLO (Be On the Lookout) bulletin for the suspect vehicle.
“Immediately upon hearing the BOLO, Hawkins County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Nate Simpson
radioed me advising the vehicle sounded like a vehicle Joel Morelock had been operating
lately. Sgt. Simpson and Deputy Mark Harrell headed to Morelock's residence on Grassy Creek
Road,” Johnson said. Meanwhile, Church Hill Police Department Sgt. Chad
Mosley checked Rub A Dub car wash, also on W. Main, and discovered that some of the grates were
missing from there as well, Johnson added. At approximately 6:30 p.m., Harrell
observed the suspect vehicle turn into a driveway at 364 Grassy Creek Road, Morelock's neighbor.
Morelock spotted the cruisers and hurriedly put his five-year-old son out on the front porch
of his neighbor and then fled on foot into the woods. “All 11 of the
stolen metal grates were recovered in the back of the truck,” which was towed back to Church Hill
for seizure purposes. The chief explained that by removing the metal
drain grates Morelock put potential customers in danger. “During the roughly
two hours that the grates were missing, it created a dangerous situation for anyone using the car
washes. The drain openings at Quick Car Wash measure four feet by two feet. Rub A
Dub's exposed drain opening measured six and one-half feet by three feet. All the drain
openings are at least two feet deep,” Johnson said. Morelock was arrested
December 1 at his place of employment by Mosley. The grates stolen from Quick
Car Wash were valued at $1,100 and the ones taken from Rub A Dub were valued at $1,200, resulting in
the two theft charges. Additionally, the HCSO filed evading arrest and driving on a
revoked/suspended license charges against Morelock. “All of the officers
from both departments did a great job regarding these thefts; especially Sgt. Simpson who
immediately knew where to look for the suspect vehicle,” Johnson added.
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