Habitual offender gets 5 years in truck theft

A Gulfport man was sentenced to five years in prison Monday for stealing a pickup from a business in 2015.

Richard Michael Lawrence, 25, pleaded guilty in Harrison County Circuit Court to motor vehicle theft as a habitual offender, District Attorney Joel Smith said in a press release.

Judge Lisa Dodson imposed a sentence of five years without early release or parole. She had reviewed his criminal history, which includes a 2012 conviction for drug distribution and a 2014 conviction for grand larceny. Lawrence was on parole for his most recent conviction at the time of his arrest in 2015.

The investigation began the morning of May 26, 2015, when Gulfport police responded to a report of a stolen vehicle at Murphy Electric on Dedeaux Road.

Employees told officers the 2006 Ford F-150 truck belonging to the business was last seen in their parking lot the previous afternoon. Another vehicle on the property had also been broken into overnight.

The fence near the parking lot was knocked down. It looked as if the thief used the truck to drive over the fence and flee, according to the press release.

“Four days later, officers responded to an anonymous tip of a suspicious vehicle in a mobile home park on Byron Road,” the press release said. “Officers confirmed the truck was stolen from Murphy Electric by matching the VIN number.

“Once confronted inside the trailer, Lawrence admitted to taking the truck from the business.”

Assistant District Attorney Robert McCormick prosecuted the case.