Bathtub bandits nabbed in Hot Springs

HOT SPRINGS NATIONAL PARK (National Park Service) - Two Hot Springs men have been convicted of breaking and entering after removing three stainless steel bathtubs from Hot Springs National Park in 2011.

John Carter was sentenced in July to 27 months in federal prison, placed on three years of probation and ordered to pay special assessments for the theft as well as restitution to TRG Recycling of Hot Springs.

Bobby Joe Robinson, who had been recruited by Carter to help him, was sentenced on Sept. 4 to three years of probation, six months of home detention with a monitoring device as well as paying restitution and court assessment fees.

In September 2011 National Park Service maintenance personnel reported three stainless steel bathtubs were missing from a maintenance storage facility. The tubs were formerly used in the Lamar and Ozark Bathhouses.

"This has been a very interesting case to follow from beginning to end," said Josie Fernandez, park superintendent. "Everything we have in the park has value. From buildings to artifacts, all belong to the American people, so we are not going to throw it away, or allow for anyone to take from us either."

After a six-month investigation, law enforcement rangers and special agents determined that Carter and Robinson, along with two others had taken the tubs to sell as scrap metal.

A grand jury in Fort Smith indicted Carter and Robinson on felony charges and the U.S. Attorney prosecuted the case in U.S. District Court in Hot Springs.

The replacement value of the tubs was determined to be in excess of $15,000 due to the tubs unique historic nature. Once the tubs were released from evidence, they were moved to the Superior Bathhouse where, they will serve a new purpose: holding tanks to brew micro beers!