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Rubber meets road in tire thefts

February 23, 2011
Police arrested two people they believe are involved in a series of break-ins in Crawford County and more arrests are expected soon.

According to Indiana Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer Dennis Talley, the Crawford County Sheriff's Department began receiving reports of stolen tires from Toney Oil Co. in Marengo back in December.

"I know of at least twice that Errol Toney called and reported that tires had been stolen from their business," Talley said. "Deputy Marcus Rogers responded to the reports, but an investigation failed to turn up much information on the crime at the time. And Crawford County has also been receiving burglary and theft reports on a regular basis."

Last week, Talley received a tip and set up surveillance on a barn where he thought stolen tires may be located. He called Rogers and Conservation Officer Terry Allen to assist in the detail.

"I had good reason to believe that the person who put the tires at this location would return that evening to retrieve them," Talley said. "Terry Allen and I hid nearby and had other police units in the area in patrol cars. At approximately 8:10 p.m., with the aid of issued night-vision equipment, I saw two suspects drive by our location in rural Marengo."

The vehicle, later identified as a 1995 Jeep Grand Cherokee, drove past the building where the tires were located.

"In a few minutes, I saw two males walking in the dark through a private field and then approach the building," Talley said. "They then entered the barn and exited with four tires matching the description of tires stolen from Toney Oil. Officer Allen and I then approached and took two men into custody without incident. Deputies Jeff Howell, Justin Ash and Rogers also assisted in the investigation."

Officers then impounded the Jeep and a 2001 Chevrolet Silverado truck. Both vehicles had new tires matching the description of those stolen from Toney Oil.

"I then obtained search warrants for both vehicles," Talley said. "I found evidence (suspected stolen property) from both vehicles leading to crimes of theft and burglaries at other locations in Crawford County."

BC Auto in English was one of the locations where burglars recently entered the business and stole items.

"I was actually broken into on three occasions," said Bob Crecelius. "The first time, that happened during the last week of January, they got a little cash I had in a cash box. The second time they got in while I was out of town for a funeral. They got a lot of my tools and auto diagnostic equipment. Then, they broke in a third time but didn't get much."

On Feb. 18, Talley called Crecelius to tell him that the equipment had been found and would be returned to the business.

"I got everything back," Crecelius said. "That was hard to believe. I haven't gotten the cash back yet, but I was glad to get the tools and equipment. Since then, I have installed a security system. I didn't have a choice. The next time they come back, we'll have pictures of them."

Talley and Allen were also able to return four new tires to Toney Oil.

"At this time, it appears that approximately 36 tires have been stolen from Toney Oil since the beginning of this string of thefts," Talley said. "I was also able to recover several items that were stolen from the Crawford County (Junior-Senior) High School. We also seized a full face mask and gloves from the Jeep that we have reason to believe were used in the commission of these crimes. We have evidence that some of the missing tires were sold on Craigslist. We are also continuing to follow leads to other criminal activity."

Arrested in the investigation were James D. Nale, 18, of Milltown and a 17-year-old juvenile from the English area.

"This is another example of a successful effort of multiple law enforcement agencies," Talley added.

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