2007-07-14 / News

Stolen property recovered in lot off Ohio 360

By Scott Rawdon

MILLERSPORT- Railroad containers reported missing from a Columbus CSX intermodal railroad yard turned up in a vacant lot on Ohio 360, along with many other large items believed to be stolen.

CSX Transportation spokesman Garrick Francis said CSX railroad police and the FairfieldCounty Sheriff's Department followed a lead to a property on Ohio 360 where they found three large containers, which were apparently transported to the property by truck, and many other items believed to be stolen.

Francis, who said he wasn't sure if the containers were full or empty when stolen, said the Columbus intermodal yard is a large, busy place with lots of traffic. It's conceivable that someone could steal the enclosed containers after they were moved from flatbed railroad cars to roadworthy tractor trailer beds. "It's difficultto say" how the crime was actually committed, he said. The containers and two chassis--trailers that allow the containers to be towed by a truck--were reported missing from the railroad yard in early June.

Francis explained that CSX has its own law enforcement authority, which cooperates with local officials to investigate incidents of crime related to the railroad. They have the authority to make arrests.

Francis said the containers were returned to CSX and the sheriff's department is figuring out who owns the rest of the items.

FairfieldCounty Sheriff Dave Phalen said the CSX containers were basically being used like storage sheds to house and conceal roughly $500,000 worth of stolen equipment from Licking, Muskingum, Franklin, and Delaware counties. Phalen said the stolen equipment included two Bobcat front-end loaders, a brand new Chevrolet Corvette, air conditioning units, construction equipment, furniture, stereo equipment, and hot water tanks.

The case, he said, began with a search warrant issued to the CSX authorities and turned into a major raid. "We have suspects and we anticipate there will be charges filed," said Phalen.

The investigation is continuing and it will be a while before the stolen items can be returned to their rightful owners. "We're moving forward (on the case)," he said. Phalen said the CSX officials have the authority to enforce laws, but only as they specificallyapply to the railroad or its property.

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