DATE: February 14, 2024
SUBJECT: Two Suspects Arrested Tied to Multiple Firearm Thefts
CONTACT: Major Matt Corn
AUTHORITY: Sheriff Noah Robinson

In late 2023, Detectives with the Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Office, the Evansville Police Department Street Crimes Unit and Special Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms began to investigate several thefts of firearms, primarily from unlocked vehicles, in Vanderburgh County. The Street Crimes Unit identified Arsenio Smith as a person of interest in these thefts.

On January 12, 2024, Vanderburgh County Sheriff Deputies and Detectives with the Street Crimes Unit conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle Smith was driving due to him having a suspended driver’s license. At that time, it was discovered that Smith had a firearm in his possession. It was determined that Smith was currently on bond for unrelated felony charges in another jurisdiction and had a previous conviction for illegally carrying a firearm, thus making it illegal for Smith to carry a handgun. Smith was taken into custody at that time. It was also later discovered that the firearm he possessed was stolen out of another county but had not been reported to law enforcement. In a follow up interview conducted by Sheriff’s Office Detectives, Smith implicated himself in the theft of multiple other firearms taken from unlocked vehicles in Vanderburgh County as well as other surrounding counties.

Through further investigation, it was determined that Smith had sold some of these firearms to Corey Steven Hooker of Fort Branch, Indiana. Hooker was found to be a convicted Felony and is currently on Parole for firearm related crimes. Detectives with the Gibson County Sheriff’s Office were contacted and apprised of the investigation. On January 22nd, 2024, Gibson Count Sheriff’s Office Detectives requested and received a judicially signed search warrant for two locations in Gibson County associated with Hooker. Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Office Detectives, Evansville Police Department Street Crimes Detectives, Special Agents with the ATF and Deputies assigned to the US Marshal’s task force assisted the Gibson Count Sheriff’s Office with the execution of these search warrants. Detectives located a total of four firearms, all of which were reported stolen in Vanderburgh County. In a subsequent interview, Hooker admitted to purchasing the firearms and knowing that they were stolen. Hooker was arrested by the Gibson County Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff Noah Robinson stated, “In total six stolen firearms were recovered by detectives during this investigation. These arrests were a direct result of the strong partnership we have with the Evansville Police Department, the ATF, and the Vanderburgh County Prosecutor’s Office.” Sheriff Robinson added, “The Vanderburgh County Crime Gun Intelligence Center (CGIC), of which local law enforcement agencies are a member, continues to prove it’s worth to our community by taking guns out of the hands of dangerous felons.”

Arsenio Joe Smith, 33, of Princeton, IN. Unlawful Carrying of a handgun Level 5 Felony
Theft of a Firearm (3 counts, 1 in Gibson County) Level 5 Felony, Driving While License Suspended a Misdemeanor

Corey Steven Hooker, 34, of Fort Branch, IN. Unlawful Possession of a Firearm Level 5 Felony, Theft/Possession of a Stolen Firearm (3 counts) Level 5 Felony, Parole Warrant

Presumption of Innocence Notice: The fact that a person has been arrested or charged with a crime is merely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law.