Rogersville teen accused of stealing $1,300 cash, returning it for reward

Jeff Bobo • Nov 1, 2007 at 12:00 AM

ROGERSVILLE — A teen accused of snatching $1,300 from a grocery store cash drawer and then returning the money to collect a reward has turned himself in to police.

Austin Eugene Gray, 18, 218 Preston Lane, Rogersville, was initially implicated in a burglary in Stanley Valley in September but was hospitalized shortly after the incident.

Detectives waited until he was released to serve the arrest warrant. Gray turned himself in at the Hawkins County Jail Wednesday evening.

In October, the Rogersville Police Department also issued an arrest warrant for Gray for theft over $1,000 stemming from a theft from the Rogersville Food City store on Aug. 25.

RPD Detective Jim Shanks said Thursday that security video and a witness who picked Gray’s face out of a picture lineup resulted in Gray being identified as the bandit. Shanks said the video showed Gray standing beside accomplice Josh Tipton in front of the service desk window.

When a clerk left the desk, Gray allegedly attempted to reach through an opening in the glass to get at a cash drawer. When he couldn’t reach it that way, Gray allegedly reached over the glass to get the money.

“The video showed him take $1,300 ... and then leave the store,” Shanks said. “Then after awhile he comes back into the store. I don’t know if he thought about it and figured he was going to get caught or what, but he returned the money.

“He said he’d found it outside and was turning it in, and asked for a reward.”

The other incident investigated by the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office occurred the morning of Sept. 23. Gray, Tipton and two juveniles allegedly took a stolen car to Kingsport that morning, stole a license plate at the Fort Henry Mall, burglarized some cars at an apartment complex in Allandale, and then burglarized a house at 3774 Stanley Valley Road.

Police said the residents came home and found Gray and Tipton in the house, and the two fled on foot, leaving behind the stolen car, a cache of stolen property and the two juveniles in the back seat. Tipton was arrested and charged that day.

Gray was served with two arrest warrants Wednesday — the RPD’s charge of theft over $1,000 and the HCSO’s charges from Sept. 23 including aggravated burglary, theft over $500, and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

He is scheduled for arraignment in Hawkins County Sessions Court on Nov. 12.

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