Alert cop finds stolen during arrest


Staff report

YOUNGSTOWN

Police Chief Robin Lees credited an officer’s hunch Monday for taking a stolen gun off the street.

Lees said the actions of officer Thomas Phillips, who spotted what reports termed suspicious behavior by Joseph Grove, 31, of East Auburndale Avenue, is the sign of good police work and also could have averted a more dangerous situation.

“That’s exactly what somebody should be doing to protect your neighborhood,” Lees said.

Grove is in the Mahoning County jail on charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm, carrying concealed weapons, improper handling of a firearm in a motor vehicle, receiving stolen property, possession of drugs and driving under suspension.

Phillips reported he was patrolling the Brier Hill area of the North Side about 2:20 p.m. Monday when he noticed a car that Grove was driving pull in several drives, stay for a short period of time, then pull out. On one stop, Phillips saw Grove walking out of his car and holding onto the side of his jacket like someone would who had a gun.

At a home in the 1000 block of Delaware Avenue, Grove got out of the car and walked behind the house. He then came back to the driveway holding his hands out. When Phillips stopped to question Grove, Grove told the officer he did not have a license, reports said.

Officer Jennifer Hudson and Detective Sgt. Brent Gaitanis arrived, and they searched behind the home, where they found a loaded handgun in a trash can reported stolen from Boardman. The gun was warm and clean and did not appear to have been in the trash can for very long, reports said.

The officers searched the car and found a pill bottle with several pills inside, reports said.

Grove has previous convictions for trafficking in drugs, breaking and entering, aggravated robbery and carrying a concealed weapon, all charges that bar him from owning a firearm.

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