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Stolen Equipment Recovered, Theft Ring Arrests Likely

Wed April 26, 2006 - Southeast Edition
CEG



MERIDIAN, MS (AP) Lauderdale County authorities say they are making progress in tracking down a three-state theft ring that goes after recreation items and construction and forestry equipment.

Chief Deputy Ward Calhoun said April 16 that investigators continue to work leads in the case and that arrests are expected soon.

“It’s like a spider web,” Calhoun said. “The deeper we get into it, the more we find. We want to make sure we thoroughly investigate the case and make sure we recover as much equipment as possible and get all parties involved.”

Sheriff’s investigators announced earlier this month that more than $250,000 in heavy equipment had been recovered from the theft ring, which spans Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana.

Sheriff Billy Sollie said last week he believes the ring may extend beyond those three states.

Maj. Ricky Presson with the sheriff’s department said more than 15 people have fallen victim to the thefts.

At an earlier briefing, Presson said the stolen items include 4-wheelers, jet skis, construction equipment, heavy equipment and forestry equipment.

Presson said at least three of the victims were from Lauderdale County. He said the suspects appear to be from Lauderdale and Kemper counties.

The Mississippi Bureau of Investigations, the Mississippi Agricultural Theft Bureau, the Madison County Sheriff’s Department and the Mississippi Insurance Crime Bureau are helping investigate the thefts.