License Reader Leads To Stolen Truck, Weapons, Drugs

OCEAN CITY — A Virginia couple was arrested last week for stealing a funeral home’s truck after a license plate reader on the Route 50 Bridge alerted resort police.

Around 2:15 a.m. last Friday, Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) officers patrolling in the downtown area got a ping from a license plate reader about a stolen Ford Ranger pickup truck from Virginia entering the resort.

Officers observed the vehicle traveling north on Baltimore Avenue as it drove through a red traffic signal, according to police reports. Officers conducted a high-risk traffic stop in the parking lot of a hotel at 15th Street and made contact with the driver, identified as Sean Martin, 35, of Winchester, Va., and his passenger, Kelsi Turner, 20, of Front Royal, Va.

Martin reportedly told police he had purchased the truck a week earlier in Pennsylvania from an individual he did not know through a social media marketplace site. Martin reportedly told police he paid $500 for the truck, but the seller did not have the title and he did not have a receipt with him. Martin told officers he “should have known better” than to buy a truck from a stranger for $500. Martin also told police he did not have a valid driver’s license and that he was a convicted felon from Virginia, according to police reports.

Officers interviewed Turner, who reportedly told police she had taken her father’s vehicle to pick up Martin and taken him to a farm in West Virginia, so he could buy a truck. Turner advised an individual gave Martin the keys to the truck, and that she had seen Martin sign a receipt, but she had never seen the actual receipt or any title to the vehicle.

Turner told resort police she returned her father’s vehicle and she and Martin then traveled in the truck from West Virginia to Virginia and then from Pennsylvania to Ocean City for a visit.

Officers contacted Virginia law enforcement, who advised the truck had been reported stolen three days before from Rinker and Frye Memorial Inc., a funeral and cemetery company. The owner of the truck said it had been on a trailer and last seen April 11, according to police.

Officers reportedly cleared the truck to be empty and safe and detected an odor of marijuana coming from the passenger compartment. Also in the passenger compartment a silver handgun partially concealed in a black sock. The handgun was loaded with a magazine containing 10 live cartridges of .45-caliber ammunition, although there was not a cartridge loaded in the chamber, according to police reports.

The Maryland Gun Center advised Martin was a convicted felon prohibited from possessing a firearm or ammunition. Martin was placed under arrest at that point for the theft of the truck. During a search of his person, OCPD officers located more ammunition along with an eyeglass case containing a crystal substance Martin characterized as bath salts. OCPD officers also located several baggies of the same substance in an amount suggesting distribution, according to police reports.

OCPD officers reportedly noticed the gray truck and been splashed around the exterior with black and orange paint. Martin reportedly told officers he bought the paint in Pennsylvania and splashed it on the exterior of the truck to “make it look like Halloween,” according to police reports.

Martin was charged with numerous counts including motor vehicle theft, and multiple weapons and drug distribution charges. Turner was also charged with motor vehicle theft because of her conflicting stories about how Martin had acquired the vehicle and her suspicions that it was stolen, according to police reports.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.