UPDATE: Information from a Warsaw Police Department press release has been added to this article.
WARSAW — Three people were recently arrested in connection with a string of thefts in Kosciusko County.
Micheal Anthony Hubbard, 22, Mishawaka, is charged with corrupt business influence, a level 5 felony; criminal organization activity, auto theft, and theft, all level 6 felonies; and resisting law enforcement, a class A misdemeanor.
Mario CJ Pratt, 19, South Bend, is charged with corrupt business influence, a level 5 felony; criminal organization activity and auto theft, both level 6 felonies; and theft, a class A misdemeanor.
Kashawn Shayanna Hudson, 20, 404 N. Parker St. No. 6, Warsaw, is charged with corrupt business influence, a level 5 felony; criminal organization activity, a level 6 felony; and two counts of theft, both class A misdemeanors.
On Aug. 11, the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office and Warsaw Police Department responded to several calls in the Hunters Ridge and Indian Village subdivisions, east of Warsaw. Multiple people reported that their vehicles had been broken into with items such as wallets and purses being stolen. One vehicle was reported stolen from the Indian Village subdivision but was later found in the Hunters Ridge area. A small pistol was also stolen from one of the vehicles at Hunters Ridge.
According to court documents, in addition to the theft reports in those subdivisions, a vehicle from the Barbee Lake area was stolen within the same time frame. The vehicle, a gray 2019 Jeep Cherokee, was later recovered after a short police chase in Niles, Mich., on Aug. 12. Inside the Jeep Cherokee, officers found items connected to the owner of the vehicle that was stolen from Indian Village but later found in Hunters Ridge.
Detectives later learned that three men, including Hubbard and Pratt, were in possession of the Jeep Cherokee and were caught on security cameras the morning of the vehicle theft. The group was also seen using credit and debit cards belonging to the victims of the Hunters Ridge and Indian Village break-ins. The cards were used at several convenience stores, as well as Walmart stores in South Bend and Niles.
Through various law enforcement resources, detectives were able to identify Hubbard and Pratt as two of the people shown in the surveillance footage.
Over the next several weeks, areas around Warsaw, Syracuse, Barbee Lake and Webster Lake continued to have vehicles ransacked or stolen. Several of the stolen vehicles were recovered in the South Bend area.
According to a press release from the Warsaw Police Department, many of the vehicles involved in the incidents were left unlocked in driveways or outside of apartment buildings.
“As the investigations unfolded, it was found that the same subjects were observed on surveillance cameras at local businesses and businesses in other communities,” read the release. “These included Columbia City, Goshen, Mishawaka, South Bend, and Niles, Mich.”
The press release also states that the subjects were identified as being affiliated with a street gang in Niles, Mich. Among other intelligence gathered against this group, it was found that they were known to carry and specifically seek out firearms left in vehicles.
On Aug. 22, a Warsaw Police detective was notified by patrol officers of multiple reports of vehicles being broken into overnight, with items stolen from the vehicles.
Officers then received information about one of the victim’s cards being used in Columbia City at Walmart. The Warsaw detective went and spoke with a loss prevention employee, who provided surveillance video of the people using the stolen cards, as well as electronic receipts of their illegal purchases. The video showed the suspects using stolen debit/credit cards and purchasing video game consoles and groceries. These transactions occurred shortly after the Walmart store opened at 6 a.m.
Through further investigation, officers and detectives were able to identify the suspects using stolen cards at the Columbia City Walmart as Hubbard, Pratt, and Hudson. The Walmart loss prevention employee told officers that Hudson and Pratt had been detained about three months ago for thefts at that store.
Surveillance footage in the store showed Pratt and Hubbard going to the electronics department, where they retrieved gaming consoles. Meanwhile, Hudson went to the grocery department and filled a cart with merchandise. Hudson then approached Pratt, who paid for the groceries using a stolen credit card. The total cost of the groceries was $175.36.
Surveillance also showed Hubbard making three separate transactions for $319.93, for an aggregate total of $959.79, each transaction using a second stolen credit card. The card used by Hubbard was stolen in a vehicle break-in during the overnight hours between Aug. 21 and 22 in Warsaw.
On Aug. 31, areas along Webster Lake and in Syracuse had thefts reported. A black Dodge Durango was taken from the Backwater Road area and was found later that day in Kosciusko County. Next to the Durango, officers found a Dodge Journey that had also been reported stolen to Warsaw Police a week earlier.
Detectives searched the area and found a vehicle that appeared similar to the one Hudson drove. The vehicle was parked at a residence. One detective near the home said he saw people begin to run from the area as he passed by.
About four hours later, detectives received information about a man walking in the area, back toward the residence. Officers pursued the man on foot as the man jumped into a nearby lake channel to avoid arrest. The man was taken into custody and identified as Hubbard.
In the residence, officers found credit cards, debit cards and other personal property stolen earlier that day from the Syracuse and Webster Lake areas; a key fob for the stolen Dodge Durango; three empty gaming console boxes; an Xbox One gaming system purchased with a stolen credit card; and coats matching those worn by Pratt in surveillance videos where stolen credit cards were used.
That same day, while speaking with detectives, Hudson opened her phone for the officers. When she opened a messaging app, a Winona Lake officer noticed that when Hudson opened Pratt’s text stream, it showed his GPS location on a map. This is a common method that criminal organizations use to track one another in order to monitor their associates’ movements and coordinate illegal activities.
Hudson said that for about one month, Hudson would drive to South Bend to pick up Pratt and other people to her home in the Barbee Lake area.
Later through the investigation, officers found that one of the stolen credit cards from Syracuse had been used online at Walmart on Aug. 31 for five fraudulent transactions totaling $1,019.19.
In a follow-up interview on Sept. 1, Hudson told officers that she picked up the men, including Pratt, at various locations in South Bend. When asked about a stolen credit card found in her vehicle, Hudson said she was unaware the card was stolen. Later in the interview, Hudson claimed that Pratt bought the Xbox One gaming system that was in her home for her. She also claimed to not know that the men were engaging in criminal activity.
For the local cases, Hubbard, Pratt and Hudson were all booked in the Kosciusko County Jail on Aug. 31.
A press release from WPD on these cases states that this is still an active and ongoing case, as there are additional suspects being sought regarding the crimes in Kosciusko County. Additionally, more charges may be filed on these individuals at the conclusion of this investigation.
“At this time, it is believed this group is responsible for at least six motor vehicle thefts, multiple thefts of firearms from vehicles, as well as a large number of thefts of credit/debit cards leading to multiple fraudulent activities in northern Indiana and southern Michigan,” read the release. “During this crime outbreak, officers worked additional hours of patrol in neighborhoods attempting to locate those involved in these crimes. Investigators worked tirelessly on tips and follow-ups, often working together within the county, the Kosciusko County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, as well as seeking assistance from investigators in other counties and the state of Michigan.”
Anyone with information on these cases is encouraged to contact WPD at (574) 372-9515 or the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office at (574) 267-5667 and ask for the detective division.