By coincidence, police found a fuel barrel that a Freedom homeowner reported stolen Sunday, Jan. 26, and charged the two men who admitted to taking the item from the Raven Road residence.

Detectives from the Waldo County Sheriff's Office charged Walter Pittman, 34, of Freedom, and his alleged accomplice, 42-year-old Adam Knight, of Knox, with theft by unauthorized taking or transfer in connection with the reported theft.

Pittman faces an additional charge of operating after suspension because he allegedly drove Knight's pickup truck to the complainant's home to transport the fuel barrel while his right to drive was was under suspension, according to Detective Merl Reed.

Reed said the Raven Road homeowner had called police to report that a 55-gallon fuel barrel that was outfitted for use as a drum, as it included fittings and a filter and was hooked up to the house with copper lining.

Reed and Detective Gerry Lincoln went to speak with the homeowner the next day and inspected the area from which the barrel was taken from the property.

"You could see where the copper lining was cut," said Reed.

When finished speaking with the complainant, they headed to Knox for an unrelated complaint.

Upon pulling into the driveway of the home, Reed and Lincoln immediately noticed a pickup parked in the yard that had a 55-gallon fuel barrel sitting in the bed.

"We just looked at each other and said, 'what are the odds,'" said Reed.

"As soon as we got out, we could smell the kerosene," added Lincoln.

The detectives then spoke with the owner of the truck, later identified as Knight, who admitted that he and Pittman went to the Raven Road residence and took the barrel for the remaining fuel that was inside.

"He said they were just hard up, and needed to heat the house," said Lincoln.

Lincoln said the fuel inside the barrel was quite old and contained some ice, which rendered it useless to Knight and Pittman, so they opted not to take any more from the barrel and left it sitting in the back of the truck.

The complainant has since regained possession of the barrel, Reed said.

"I'd like to say it was due to good police work, but we were just lucky," said Reed.