The sheriff said there have been several vending machine robberies - from Rose Hill to Pennington Gap - over the past week, including the theft of nearly $600 from a change machine at the coin laundry in Pennington Gap. While officers investigated the thefts, they were able to obtain a description of a suspect vehicle in some of the cases.
On Saturday, Parsons said, off-duty dispatcher Tracy Ely saw a vehicle matching the description of the suspect vehicle as it was leaving Lee Regional Medical Center. Ely called the LCSD dispatch center, and Officer Mike Peters was able to stop the vehicle in a matter of moments.
Parsons said the vehicle was occupied by Hershel Dewayne Holland, 33, of Coldiron, Ky., and Timothy D. Brock, 44, also of Coldiron. The sheriff said the two confessed to the crimes and the fact that they had just robbed the hospital's vending machines. Officers also found tools for robbing vending machines in the suspects' vehicle, he said.
The sheriff said Holland was charged with one count of breaking into the machines and is being held in the Duffield regional jail on a $5,000 bond. Parsons said Brock was released but will be indicted later. Parsons said he anticipates additional charges against Holland, and a third accomplice involved in some of the thefts will also be indicted.
He commended Ely for her observation and quick thinking that led to the capture of the vending machine bandits.