ATV theft suspect called smooth

Police are on the trail of Scott Bolton, whom is suspected in $600,000 worth of all-terrain vehicle robberies.

 He's a clean-cut guy, a smooth talker who makes you feel like he's a good friend, and he's an all-terrain vehicle seller's worst enemy, police say.

His name is Scott Bolton, and in 3 1/2 years he is suspected of stealing about 70 ATVs valued at more than $600,000 from owners in more than a dozen communities, say officials with the Northeastern Pennsylvania Auto Theft Task Force.

His method is simple, police say: He and an accomplice respond to an ad placed in the Paper Shop classified magazine. Bolton convinces the owner to let him take the ATV for a test drive and never comes back, while the accomplice drives off in another vehicle, said Myles Walsh, administrator of the task force.

Sometimes Bolton, 37, has driven the vehicle into the back of a large truck parked blocks away, Walsh said. Other times he zips onto nearby railroad tracks. Almost every time he has gotten away.

"He's very knowledgeable. He makes sure he has a path to get out after he takes the quad and he's on his way," said Mike Prokopchak, a Kingston Township police officer and former detective for the auto task force who led the investigation into the ATV thefts.

The owners trust Bolton to take the vehicle because he spends time talking with them to gain their confidence, said Wilkes-Barre police officer Brian Kruszka, also a member of the task force. "He's a smooth talker. He comes across as being a nice, trustworthy man."

Police say Bolton's latest victim was Brian Kivler of Nanticoke, whose ATV valued at about $4,000 was stolen on Feb. 9. Kivler identified Bolton from a photo lineup, said Nanticoke detective Bill Shultz. Bolton is also suspected of stealing another ATV that was towed on its trailer from Phillips Street in the Hanover section of Nanticoke on Feb. 13, Shultz said.

Shultz said he plans to file arrest warrant for Bolton in the Kivler case. He can add it to a stack of other warrants for Bolton issued by police departments in Sugar Notch, Dallas, Duryea and Plains Township, as well as the Luzerne County's Sheriff's Department and the Luzerne County Correctional Facility.

The police departments want Bolton in ATV thefts, while the prison wants him on an escape charge for failing to return to the county's work release center on June 5. Bolton was serving a 21-month to 42-month sentence on a variety of charges including theft.

Since his escape, Bolton has eluded capture several times, including a manhunt in Plymouth Township last summer in which he ran through the woods barefoot before escaping by jumping into the Susquehanna River, said Kruszka.

"He will go to any avenue to get away from law enforcement," Kruszka said. "That's what makes him so dangerous."

So far, none of the ATVs has been recovered. Police said they are still investigating if Bolton is reselling the vehicles outright, or sending them to a "chop shop" to sell for parts.

Walsh said police are hampered in recovering ATVs because they are not registered and are ridden primarily in the woods.

"A police car is not going to drive up behind them and see a license plate like they would on a car," Walsh said. "There are enough people out there willing to buy them, knowing they're not legal, especially if (the buyer) lives out in the country and knows no one is ever going to see them."

The task force on Tuesday announced it is offering a $500 reward for information leading to Bolton's arrest. Anyone with information is asked to call the task force's toll-free hotline at 888-999-7211. Callers can remain anonymous.

In the meantime, task force officials caution ATV sellers to take extra precautions when showing their vehicles. Get identification from the proposed buyer before letting them take a test drive, or offer to let them ride as a passenger with you, they said.

"If someone pulls up to look at the ATV and whoever dropped them off drives away, that's a sure sign the guy is going to take the ATV and not come back with it," Walsh said.

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