Theft suspect caught on camera sentenced to three years in prison


Eric Stewart, Logan County Prosecuting Attorney reports that a Grove City man was sentenced to three years in prison as a result of a theft spree.

Michael E. Hart Jr., 25, pleaded guilty to grand theft of a firearm and grand theft of a motor vehicle along with an additional count of felony theft on July 26, 2023. The Logan County victim, a Zane Township resident, reported to the Logan County Sheriff’s Office in July of 2022 that unknown persons had broken into his residence while he was at work and had taken a Harley Davidson motorcycle, three firearms, multiple tools, and stereo equipment, with a total value in excess of $16,000.

While law enforcement was speaking with the victim, the victim’s brother located a hat in a ditch close to the roadway nearby. Shortly after, a neighbor provided surveillance camera footage that established Hart had also been on the neighbor’s property with another male. Hart was clearly wearing the hat in the video. The victim speculated that the hat may have been dislodged from the wind while Hart was riding the motorcycle from the victim’s residence. Hart gave the neighbor an alias and said he was in the area doing concrete work for a company in Columbus. Another neighbor reported similar suspicious visitors on the same date, with two males stating they were there to repair his garage floor, even though they had no tools with them to complete such work and he had never ordered any repairs. Deputies contacted the concrete company in Columbus and the owner recognized Hart as a former employee from the video and provided his name. The owner was also able to verify a description of Hart’s vehicle, a black Jeep Cherokee.

Hart was on post-release control for a prison sentence in Franklin County. When deputies visited his house, they observed the vehicle matching witness descriptions, but Hart was not home. He was arrested on a warrant in August 2022 in Madison County, driving a different vehicle. As a result of that traffic stop, he was charged with aggravated possession of drugs, and his community control in an earlier Madison County case for weapons under disability was subsequently revoked in December of 2022.

On January 2, 2023, the stolen motorcycle was involved in a fatality crash when the operator, Jeffrey Joseph Frey Jr., 33, of Columbus, was struck by another vehicle on Hilliard-Rome Road south of Roberts Road in Franklin County. Frey died of his injuries and the motorcycle was totaled.

Judge Kevin Braig sentenced Hart to three years in prison on the grand theft of a firearm; 18 months on the grand theft of a motor vehicle; and 12 months on the remaining theft count, to be served concurrently to each other, but consecutive to Hart’s sentence from Madison County, which will terminate in August of 2024. Braig noted the seriousness of the offenses and Hart’s criminal history merited prison sentences.

Michael E. Hart Jr.