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SOUTH S.L. PROBE OF TRUCK LEADS TO CACHE OF STOLEN GOODS IN W.V.

SHARE SOUTH S.L. PROBE OF TRUCK LEADS TO CACHE OF STOLEN GOODS IN W.V.

Police investigating a stolen truck Monday broke an organized theft ring possibly linked to burglaries of repair shops in several states.

Police came across the cache of stolen property while searching a West Valley apartment for evidence linking the renters to a stolen truck. The truck and some $20,000 worth of tools and tires were recently taken from a South Salt Lake business.Investigators spent the past week attempting to connect the stolen property to past burglaries - some of the cases at least two years old. Their phones were inundated Wednesday with calls from people in several states looking to recover stolen tools.

A man, 60, and his common-law wife, 43, travel the Intermountain region as truckers and are suspected of orchestrating the repair shop burglaries. They were arrested at their apartment without incident and booked into the Salt Lake County Jail Monday for investigation of theft and drug-related charges.

"They've been doing this for a long time," South Salt Lake detective Dave Browning said. "It's the first time they've been caught."

It was a fluke that led police to the couple's West Valley apartment, he said.

A security guard at Huish Chemical Co. was on the lookout for a white sedan belonging to some gang members. When a man dumped off a truck on company property and got into a white sedan, it caught the attention of the guard, who reported the incident to Salt Lake police, Browning said.

Police were serving a search warrant at the couple's apartment Monday, looking for information about the stolen truck, when they discovered hundreds of tools stashed on a patio and throughout the home.

"Every time we opened a drawer . . . under the bed, we found more stuff," detective Tracy Tingey said. "It was everywhere."

They've linked some $120,000 worth of stolen goods to burglaries in Park City and Thatcher Chemical. Summit County sheriff's officials hauled off two loads of the stolen property, Browning said. The rest of it is at the South Salt Lake city shops, awaiting identification by burglary victims.

Unlike firearms or electronic equipment, people often buy tools and don't bother to record the serial number or mark them with identification. That makes it hard for police to return stolen property once it's found.

Ideally, the owners would have reported the serial numbers to their insurance company, and the property would be listed as stolen on the National Crime Information computer. In that case, returning the property is much easier, no matter where it is taken from, Tingey said.