Man connected to 3-year Tri-Cities region crime spree now behind bars

Michael Von Bristol (Source: Johnson City Police Department)
Michael Von Bristol (Source: Johnson City Police Department)

JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL) – The Johnson City Police Department says it has captured a man accused of stealing the identities and credit cards of several victims across our region.

Michael Bristol, 44, has been a fugitive for nearly three years. He’s charged with more than three dozen crimes relating to identity theft and credit card fraud. He was also wanted by at least nine different police agencies in the Tri-Cities and Southwest Virginia.

“It’s one of the most extensive I’ve seen. And I’ve been here 15 years,” Sergeant Mike Adams with JCPD’s Criminal Investigation Division said.

credit-card-fraudPolice almost arrested him last month, but were unsuccessful.

“We had a suspect vehicle and in late September officers almost caught him at the Volunteer Lodge. He actually jumped off a second-story balcony to evade arrest at that time,” Sgt. Adams said.

Surveillance footage at multiple locations helped police identify him. Wednesday, they had information that he was in Johnson City and they arrested him at the Value Place Hotel.

Sgt. Adams said his warrants weren’t just in Johnson City. “ETSU has a warrant on him – Washington County, Carter County, Elizabethton, Sullivan County, Kingsport, Bristol, Washington County, Virginia,” he said.

He’s charged with 22 counts of identity theft, 12 counts of credit card fraud, 8 counts of theft under $500, forgery, auto burglary and evading arrest.

Sgt. Adams said Bristol’s lack of a permanent address or registered vehicle made him difficult to capture.

ETSU student, Grace Arrowood was one of his victims. She placed her bag in a cubby in the basement of ETSU’s Brooks Gymm, but when she returned it was gone.

“My first thought was somebody probably grabbed it because people’s stuff look similar, whatever,” Arrowood said.

She soon realized all of her personal belongings were stolen, including her drivers licence, school ID, social security card, passport and even her insulin meter to treat her diabetes. She also said hundreds of dollars in charges racked up within hours of the incident.

Sgt. Adams said it’s a common crime and he has a simple warning.

“Keep your credit cards and debit cards close,” he said.

He also mentioned not to leave personal belongings in your car, use cash when possible and to be careful when shopping online.

Police are still trying to found out just how much money Michael Bristol is accused of stealing. He’s in the Washington County Detention Center under a $254,000 bond.

Copyright 2016 WJHL. All rights reserved.

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