Tennessee: Investigators with the Tennessee Highway Patrol stopped a suspect in an ongoing equipment theft investigation and examined a tractor he was hauling. The tractor was stolen and the suspect was hauling it to a dealership to which he had sold multiple units. As several of these machines were still at the dealership, investigators were able to identify several more pieces as stolen by searching police computers, contacting the National Equipment Register and speaking with theft victims. Authorities are now looking at links between the suspect and other equipment thefts in southern Indiana, South Carolina and Kentucky. He had been stealing machines from dealerships and unattended worksites, often during daylight hours. Witnesses reported the suspect appeared to “know what he was doing,” and therefore did not question his activity.
Georgia: An investigator stopped a truck pulling a trailer with a Kubota RTV900 utility vehicle on it; the trailer had incorrect plates. The investigator ran the VIN for the trailer through police computers and discovered it had been stolen. The driver had no plausible explanation for how he obtained the utility vehicle. The investigator called NER for assistance in identifying the machine and finding ownership or theft information. No records were immediately found, but NER was aware of a 2004 theft in which an entire transport of Kubota utility vehicles had been stolen. Research confirmed the RTV900 was one of those machines, and the driver was arrested for possession of stolen property. He was driving the transport truck in 2004 when the machines were stolen at a truck stop.
North Carolina: A contractor spotted a van near one of his jobsites after hours and gave the van’s license plate number to his local police department. When officers arrived at the home of the van’s registered owner, they were told he was not there. While at the residence, the officers noticed a large industrial generator seemingly out of place in the yard and were granted permission to examine it. They ran the serial number through police computers, finding a matching theft report from a neighboring county. The officers monitored the van owner’s home for a short while and observed a man leave the property with a Takeuchi compact excavator and abandon it in nearby woods. Officers stopped the man and determined he was the van owner. They examined the compact excavator and called NER. The unit was on record as being stolen recently from a national rental chain. The van driver was arrested and both stolen machines were returned to their owners.
The National Equipment Register provided this information. NER operates databases of equipment ownership and theft records law enforcement officers use to help identify stolen machines.