Likely suspect in area tire thefts

A series of events in Bridgeville Sunday night led Delaware State Police to arrest a Washington, D.C. man on numerous charges.

Troopers responded to The Car Store, located at 9335 Beach Highway, around 5 a.m. on Sunday, September 10, for a report of a suspicious subject wearing dark clothing and a ski mask. Upon their arrival, the suspect was nowhere to be found, but a tan Chevrolet Tahoe with District of Columbia registration was found in the parking lot. Two sets of truck tires were resting on the ground next to it. 

A search of the lot revealed that two pickup trucks had had all of their tires removed and were sitting on bricks, causing damage to the brake rotors. A third pickup truck had had its lug nuts removed. Surveillance video captured the suspect fleeing in a westerly direction as the first officer arrived on the scene.

A computer check of the registration revealed the owner of the Tahoe to be 49-year-old Ernest S. Covington, of Washington, D.C. Troopers began searching the area and, around 7 a.m., spoke to a witness who claimed to have seen a person fitting the suspect's description at the intersection of Seashore Highway and Scotts Store Road. An hour later, a trooper found Covington walking westward on Seashore Highway, just west of Farmer Gene's Market. He gave police a false name but was found to be in possession of a traffic camera citation for the Tahoe and its key, as well as a bag of chips, a soda and some Slim Jims.

As Covington was being transported to Troop 5, a burglary was being reported at Farmer Gene's Market. Someone had forced entry into the building by removing an AC unit and stolen an undisclosed amount of cash - which was later found outside the same window used to gain entry. Also stolen during the burglary was a bag of chips, a soda and some Slim Jims.

Covington was charged with third-degree burglary, theft over $1,500, theft under $1,500, attempted theft under $1,500, two counts of criminal mischief, criminal impersonation, possession of burglary tools, hindering prosecution, and third-degree criminal trespass. He was committed to Sussex Correctional Institution on $15,100 cash bond.

The investigation into multiple thefts of tires from dealerships in Kent and Sussex Counties is continuing and more charges may be forthcoming for Covington.