Jan. 14-A Cracker Barrel employee's report of a safe and dolly left in the grass behind the Joplin restaurant Wednesday morning led to the arrest of a suspect in a burglary at a nearby hotel.
Capt. Will Davis of the Joplin Police Department said officers responding to the report of a safe found behind the restaurant at 4010 Richard Joseph Blvd. began canvassing the area and learned that there had been a break-in that morning at Towneplace Suites, 4026 S. Arizona Ave., that had yet to be reported.
Hotel employees told police that a supply room and office had been entered, and the safe and other items, including tools and a master key card to hotel rooms, were missing.
In the meantime, Davis said, a hotel worker reported that someone was in a room that was supposed to be vacant and would not let her in. Police found a man in the room in possession of some of the items taken from the office as well as a credit card that had been reported stolen in a prior burglary in Joplin, he said.
Davis said the trespasser initially provided officers with a false name but eventually was identified as Adam G. Gustafson, 38, of Joplin, who officers knew had been a suspect in a recent stolen vehicle pursuit in McDonald County.
Further investigation led to the recovery of a Hyundai Tucson - reported stolen in Joplin on Dec. 19 and bearing license plates stolen in Webb City - in the parking lot of the motel. Davis said additional items taken from the hotel were recovered from the vehicle.
The Newton County prosecutor's office charged Gustafson with first-degree burglary and receiving stolen property. He was charged in the recent McDonald County incident with stealing and resisting arrest, and he has drug possession, property damage, domestic assault and protection order violation counts pending against him in Jasper County.
Gustafson was sent to prison in 2009 on burglary, vehicle tampering and vehicle theft charges.