The Marshall County Prosecutor’s Office announced today the sentencing of David Allen Rice to an 11 year executed sentence in the Indiana Department of Corrections. This sentence comes as a result of the outstanding investigation conducted by the Marshall County Sheriff’s Department (MCSD) in conjunction with the Plymouth Police Department, St. Joseph County Police Department, Indiana State Police, and the Elkhart County Police Department.

In the Fall of 2023, a string of thefts began to occur, impacting multiple victims from different counties in the area.  The thefts included an excavator valued at over $50,000 and several enclosed trailers and dump trailers. State and local law enforcement agencies were notified at different times of the various thefts beginning in September and October, 2023 from various businesses.  For example, a roofing company trailer parked at a local golf resort was reported missing in early October and its contents were later found dumped along a rural road in St. Joseph County.  An enclosed trailer from a Plymouth business was discovered missing on October 1 but the investigation revealed it was stolen several days earlier.

Officers and detectives from the area agencies began to compare information and employ sophisticated investigative techniques.  With information derived from private surveillance cameras, investigators were able to utilize license plate reader technology to confirm the location and path of travel of suspect vehicles.  Soon one co-conspirator was arrested who identified other conspirators. Prosecuting Attorney Nelson Chipman noted this investigative technique was not so sophisticated but rather relied upon the age old adage: “There is no honor among thieves.”  

Eventually, David Rice was identified and arrested in late October of 2023.  Ultimately, in response to the overwhelming evidence gathered and the cooperation of various witnesses in the investigation, Rice pled guilty to theft as a Level 5 felony and also to the newly added charge of being an Habitual Criminal Offender.  Rice was represented by local attorney June Bules; the State of Indiana was represented by Deputy Prosecutor Matthew Aldridge.

A sentencing hearing was conducted on July 3 by Judge Matthew Sarber in Marshall Superior Court 3.  Aldridge argued for a maximum sentence, emphasizing Rice was the ringleader of these thefts in Marshall County as well as several surrounding counties. Aldridge also emphasized the significant losses suffered by multiple victims including losses related to business interruption. After weighing the evidence of mitigation and aggravation, as well as allowing Mr. Rice to explain his conduct, Judge Sarber announced the sentence from the bench emphasizing his lengthy criminal record and his failed attempts at rehabilitation.  The only mitigator the Judge identified was Rice’s willingness to plead guilty.  Judge Sarber ruled the aggravators, however, far outweighed the sole mitigator.   Included in the sentence was an order of restitution in excess of $4000, reduced to a civil judgment to be paid after Rice’s release from prison.  Due to the nature of the offense, Rice will have to serve in prison at least 75% of the time imposed.

Deputy Prosecutor Aldridge praised the coordinated efforts of law enforcement that brought this case to a successful conclusion.  Officers and departments identified by Aldridge include:  Plymouth Police detectives Ben McIntyre, Derek Workman and Steve DeLee; Indiana State Police Jonathon Hart and Corey Sauer; Marshall County Sheriff’s Department Detective Sgt Jonathan Bryant, Lt. Les McFarland, Officers Blake Bennett and Bob Williams; Culver PD Chad Becker; and St. Joseph County Detective Parmalee. 

In addition, the coordinated efforts of lead Detective Seargent Jonathan Bryant, resulted in several of the stolen items being recovered and returned to their rightful owners. The critical evidence and statements obtained have led to further investigation and multiple charges filed against Rice in St. Joseph County, which, if found guilty, may result in a consecutive sentence.

Marshall County Prosecutor Nelson Chipman concluded:  “David Rice is a career criminal. As most cowards do, he usually struck in the dead of night.  I am pleased how several of our local criminal justice components all played a synchronized part in putting an end to Mr. Rice’s chosen vocation,,,,,,,, at least for the next decade.”