Police bust heavy equipment theft ring responsible for $1.5 million in machines stolen from Indiana jobsites, dealers

Some of the heavy equipment in the long list of machines recovered by law enforcement officials in the arrest of two men in connection to a large theft ring. Credit: Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Office via ABC 6Some of the heavy equipment in the long list of machines recovered by law enforcement officials in the arrest of two men in connection to a large theft ring. Credit: Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Office via ABC 6

An investigation involving three sheriff’s offices, a city police department and the FBI has busted two men for their connection to a theft ring responsible for the theft of $1.5 million in heavy equipment.

According to a report from ABC 6 TV, Andrew R. Elpers, 36, and Thomas W. Elpers, 62, were arrested in connection to the thefts. Andrew Elpers was charged with possession of stolen property while Thomas Elpers was charged with burglary, theft and criminal mischief to a vehicle. The investigation is ongoing more arrests are expected.

Officers recovered a long list of machines in the bust including, “excavators, skid steers, farm tractors, utility vehicles, trucks, sport utility vehicles, box trailers, flat-bed trailers, hydraulic equipment and attachments,” ABC 6 reports. The equipment was recovered from a property in Madison County, North Carolina.

The thefts occurred over several years and the equipment was taken from dealerships and construction sites in Vanderburgh County, Indiana. However, the reach of the ring went far beyond Indiana with machines being re-sold in North Carolina as well as the tri-state area of Indiana, Kentucky and Illinois.

The Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Office told ABC 6 they believe most of the stolen equipment was recovered in the bust but that they’ll never be sure of the full amount stolen.

Investigators also believe that some of the equipment may have actually been stolen from Missouri and brought to Indiana to resell.

Vanderburgh County Sheriff Dave Wedding said those involved in this ring are very experienced criminals and busting the Elpers took a considerable amount of police work and cooperation between all the agencies involved. A press release from the Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Office said the final straw came on December 26 when “detectives observed Andrew Elpers at a Vanderburgh County business as he appeared to scout the location and examine a piece of heavy equipment.”