11/07/12 Indiana Conservation Officer Keith Wildeman arrested Robert Allen, 24, of North Judson on for spotlighting deer from a motor vehicle while in possession of a loaded firearm.

A concerned citizen placed a call on Sunday evening to the Indiana Turn-In-A-Poacher (TIP) Hotline for a suspicious activity in rural Starke County involving subjects that were possibly poaching deer with firearms and the aid of spotlights.

At 6:45pm, Officer Wildeman observed a pickup truck, possibly matching the description of a suspect vehicle in the area shining a spotlight across open fields and along wooded areas in an apparent search for deer. At one point, the light was shined directly on Officer Wildeman while he was in the field observing the area. Officer Wildeman was able to conduct a traffic stop on the vehicle driven by Robert Allen and his passenger, Shane Howard, 21, of Winamac. During the stop Officer Wildeman, discovered a loaded .50 caliber muzzleloader inside the cab of the vehicle, along with a spotlight, and numerous rounds of ammunition. Allen was then arrested for the class C Misdemeanor of spotlighting deer from a motor vehicle while in possession of loaded firearm.

Charges have been filed with the Starke County Prosecutor Office and which may lead to the seizure of all equipment used in the crime, including the muzzleloader. Additional charges are pending at this time, regarding the possible illegal taking of deer earlier in the season as this investigation continues.

Under Indiana State Law it is permitted to shine a spotlight from a motor vehicle, so long as there are no firearms or archery equipment inside the vehicle.

Indiana Conservation Officers want to remind the public to call the Turn In a Poacher Hotline if these types of violations occur near your home. The hotline number is 1- 800 – TIP – IDNR.

To better serve the public, Indiana Conservation Officers throughout the state, can also now be reached through ICO Central Dispatch 24 hours by contacting 812–837–9536.