Lexington police catch thieves with $1,400 in change


LEXINGTON, Ky. (KT) - Don’t call it chump change. 

Lexington police have recovered over $1,400 in money taken from coin-operated air pumps at gas stations over the past several months, arrested four people and are seeking one more. 

According to Lexington Police, an officer patrolling the area of Winchester Road on Sunday observed a man, later identified as 37-year-old Joseph Michael Estep, taking money from an air machine at the Speedway gas station at Elkhorn Drive. Estep was then seen getting into a truck driven by his girlfriend, 33-year-old Melissa Lear.

When police made contact with the pair, approximately $10 in quarters fell from Estep’s lap as he got out of the truck. Upon a search of the vehicle, officers found hundreds of more dollars in quarters along with a stolen license plate, pliers and other tools.

Estep and Lear are acquaintances of three other men accused of similar crimes in recent months. Wesley Jackson, 40, was arrested Monday in Richmond on a Fayette County warrant for theft by unlawful taking.

Detectives believe Jackson learned how to break into the air machines from Steven Pelfrey, 44. Pelfrey was arrested by Lexington police earlier this month and there is an active warrant for his cousin, 34-year-old Nathan Pelfrey.  Anyone with information about Nathan Pelfrey’s whereabouts is asked to call Lexington Police at (859) 258-3600.

All five face theft charges, while Estep and Lear are also charged with possession of burglary tools, criminal mischief and theft of a motor vehicle registration plate.




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