110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
Armed DeLand business owner foils thievery for second time, Sheriff's Office reports
By Pat Andrews
posted Feb 12, 2014 - 8:24:51pm
For the second time in little more than a year, West Crane Services on Newport Avenue near the DeLand Airport was targeted for the theft of metals. For the second time, 65-year-old owner John West foiled those plans.
This time, West held a suspect at gunpoint until the law arrived, the Volusia County Sheriff's Office said.
The latest incident happened around 9 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 9, when owner West heard a noise outside his business. West said he saw someone loading metal-spreader bars stored into a pickup.
A 911 caller reported catching the thief in the act.
The dispatcher could hear the caller arguing with the suspect, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
The suspect, 43-year-old Dale Stewart, later told deputies he thought the metal was discarded junk, so he started loading it into his truck. The next thing he knew, the owner came out of the business, pointed a gun at him, and told Stewart to get on the ground. Stewart complied.
A nearby DeLand police officer arrived at the scene and detained Stewart until a deputy from the Sheriff's Office arrived.
The deputy's report states that West's level of force "appeared to be reasonable and appropriate, based on the totality of circumstances," Sheriff's Office spokesman Gary Davidson stated.
During questioning, Stewart said the is a self-employed handyman who's been supplementing his income by scrapping metal, because business has been slow, the report stated.
The Sheriff's Office checked records and discovered that Stewart has scrapped nearly a ton of metal at local dealers in just the past month.
Stewart was booked into the Volusia County Branch Jail on charges of burglary and grand theft, as well as possession of prescription medication without a valid prescription.
The Sheriff’s Office said a similar incident happened Jan. 7, 2013, when John West and his shotgun stopped two men as they tried to drive off his property at night with metals. West had been guarding the business, because it had already been burglarized not long before, and metal had been stolen, he told the Sheriff’s Office.
The Sheriff's Office arrested two suspects in the 2013 case.
The Beacon was unable to contact John West to talk about the incidents. His son, Chad West, said his father doesn't like attention and doesn't want to talk to the news media.
Chad West said thieves are getting bolder.
"They're even coming in the daylight hours now," he said.
Metal thefts leave Chad West puzzled.
"It doesn't seem like it would be worth the risk," he said.
Stewart remained in custody Feb. 10 under $10,500 bond.
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