State police work to return $500k in stolen equipment after major theft ring busted in Anderson

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ANDERSON, Ind. -- Indiana State Police help bust a major theft ring and find more than $500,000 in stolen construction equipment. All day Wednesday, investigators worked to return the items to their rightful owners.

Investigators call it a “well organized chop shop.” Throughout the day numerous potential victims came to the scene to try and identify some of the stolen equipment.

State police say the bust all started with a lucky break when a construction worker who had recently been hit by thieves drove down State Road 9 and noticed some of his stolen equipment.

“It shows that good police work sometimes starts with a lucky break,” said Indiana State Police Sgt. John Bowling.

When state police arrived to investigate they took pictures of what they found, including a half dozen trucks stripped down for parts, as well as wreckers, skid loaders, even bathtubs, sinks and a lot of tools.

“We have a barn full of hand tools, so it appears to be a sizeable operation,” said Bowling.

“My whole truck was emptied recently and 13 thousand dollars in tools was taken from it,” said theft victim Frank Stapleton.

State police let several contractors like Frank onto the property to search for their stolen tools. Unfortunately for Frank, he came up empty handed.

“I was a little excited thinking they caught these guys, but unfortunately I wasn’t one of the lucky ones,” said Stapleton.

On the other hand, after signing in two other construction workers said did recover some of their lost property. Two stolen trucks were later driven away by their rightful owners.

All the contractors say they’re thrilled the theft ring got busted.

“I applaud the state police for this. It’s a good feeling to know they’re out there looking out for us,” said Stapleton.

Investigators also served a warrant at two other homes in Anderson. State police say they’ve been getting calls from around the state about the bust.

“We’ve received calls from as far as Louisville from people that had equipment stolen and are wondering if we have it here,” said Bowling.

The Madison County prosecutors office is assisting with the investigation, but so far no criminal charges have been filed in the case.

If anyone has any information about the stolen equipment, or if any contractors in central Indiana have recently had any construction equipment stolen or construction site supplies like hand tools, bath tubs or shower stalls, please call the Pendleton State Police Post for Detective Tony Klettheimer, or Detective David Preston at 765-778-2121.