At Least One Arrest Made In Road Construction Thefts - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Near Rector, AR -- Kathy Morris Reports

At Least One Arrest Made In Road Construction Thefts

SEPTEMBER 9, 2004 -- Posted at: 9:50pm CDT

NEAR RECTOR, AR - A thief is making it more difficult for road construction crews to get their projects finished, and missing machinery isn't just a problem in Region 8.

"No. It's across the United States. It isn't just in this area," said Denny Brown, Superintendent for D. L. Persons Construction headquartered in Poplar Bluff, Missouri.  Brown said there's been one incident at the current sight he's overseeing, which is on Highway 90 near Rector, since he began working for the company in May.

Brown explained, "It was a backhoe almost stolen, and it was 9/10 of a mile from where it was stolen from or where we found it the next morning."

Thieves load the equipment onto trailers. Reports say they've modified serial numbers to make tracing the equipment more difficult, and the machinery has been tampered with in other ways. "The wires was pulled off the backup alarm and the backup alarm was pulled down, bent down out of the way, so it wouldn't work, and it was just left like they had been scared off or something like that," Brown added.

Craig Smith, the controller for R. L. Persons, said three machines have been stolen in the last year. The latest piece of equipment was taken a couple of months ago, but unlike the others, the John Deere bulldozer has been recovered. It was taken from Pemiscot County, Missouri and found in Piggott.

Denny Brown commented, "They've got serial numbers, but it's hard to go out here and check every piece of equipment for serial numbers, and it takes a whole lot, you know, a long time, when they could put a chip on them or something to help it out a little bit."

Smith said R. L. Persons employees have started cutting wires on the equipment to make sure no more pieces are taken, until a solution can be found, and the thieves are caught.

Investigators haven't released the name of the person arrested for taking the construction equipment. Craig Smith said federal agents are also working on this case. They told him they searched a Missouri farm on Thursday for leads.

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