When police stopped him, he dropped $10 in quarters. Officers found a whole lot more.

Lexington police

Lexington police has recovered more than $1,400 worth of quarters following a series of thefts into various coin-operated air pumps at gas stations.

While patrolling the area of Elkhorn Drive Sunday, police observed a man, later identified as 37-year-old Joseph Michael Estep, taking money from an air machine at a Speedway gas station, police said in a release.

Estep was then seen getting into a truck that was driven by his girlfriend, 33-year-old Melissa Lear, according to police.

Officers made contact with Estep and Lear, and around $10 worth of quarters fell out of the man’s lap as he got out of the truck, police said. Officers found hundreds more dollars of quarters during a vehicle search.

Estep and Lear are acquaintances with three other men who have been accused of similar crimes in recent months, police said. Wesley Jackson, 40, who was arrested Monday in Richmond, allegedly learned how to break into the air machines from Steven Pelfry, 44, police said. Pelfry was arrested earlier this month and there is a warrant out for his cousin, 34-year-old Nathan Pelfry.

Police said Estep and Lear are charged with two counts of criminal mischief, possession of burglary tools, two counts of theft by unlawful taking and theft of motor vehicle registration plate. Estep is also charged with an additional theft charge and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Witnessing a crime and reporting it can be just as frightening as being the victim of a crime. Here’s what you should do if you witness illegal activity.

Jackson is charged with theft by unlawful taking and Pelfry was arrested on a second-degree criminal mischief charge and two counts of theft by unlawful taking. Pelfry’s active warrant is for third-degree criminal mischief and theft by unlawful taking.

Air Machine Suspects.jpg

Anyone with information about Nathan Pelfrey’s whereabouts is asked to call Lexington Police at (859) 258-3600.

Anonymous tips, including photos and videos, can be submitted by texting LEXPD plus the tip to CRIMES (274637). Information can also be sent anonymously through Bluegrass Crime Stoppers at (859) 253-2020 or