Arthur Howell wanted to come clean, not just to police officers, but to God.
That’s what he told investigators as he admitted to stealing numerous air conditioning units in the Forest Park Southeast neighborhood. His crimes, committed over many months, victimized not just homeowners, but the entire neighborhood he lived in.
Thursday, Howell faced a judge and was sentenced.
In February, a judge found Howell guilty of four counts of felony stealing and three counts of misdemeanor stealing. Witnesses told police they would often see Howell wearing a reflective vest around their neighborhood. After Howell became a suspect in several air conditioning unit thefts, he admitted to police that he would steal the units to scrap for cash. He implicated himself in a number of the approximately 50 air conditioner thefts in the neighborhood since 2010.
Though Howell would get small amounts of money for the metal, homeowners would have to spend thousands to repair or replace what Howell took. Their lost sense of security cost them even more.
One victim spoke in court Thursday, telling the judge that Howell’s actions had serious ripple effects around the entire neighborhood, making people feel very unsafe in their own homes.
“The defendant specifically targeted members of his own neighborhood and even tried to disguise himself in uniform,” Assistant Circuit Attorney Patrick Hamacher wrote in court documents.
Given Howell’s prior convictions for drugs, ACA Hamacher recommended Howell serve 10 years in the Missouri Department of Corrections.
A judge sentenced Howell to serve two years, denying the defense counsel’s request for 120-days “shock time.”
The victim and a neighborhood representative said they were hopeful Howell would learn from his crimes.