Inspector Matheu Becker
On Friday afternoon, December 12, 2014, Inspector Matheu Becker of the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles-License and Theft Bureau was traveling NC Highway 58 in Jones County, southwest of New Bern, North Carolina. This is an area of coastal North Carolina he is not assigned.
Inspector Becker’s patrol vehicle had recently been equipped with the LoJack Stolen Vehicle Recovery Network’s Police Tracking Computer (PTC). The partnership of the License and Theft Bureau and LoJack has been in place for several years but recently added additional PTC units to Inspector’s patrol vehicles in outlying areas of the state in an effort to recover stolen vehicles in areas not traditionally covered by the LoJack SVRN.
On this afternoon Inspector Becker’s LoJack PTC alerted him to a stolen vehicle signal; displaying an assigned code of the stolen vehicle, giving a directional location of the stolen vehicle and a signal strength indicator showing the relative distance from the patrol vehicle. Inspector Becker contacted the highway patrol communication center, provided the code being received and was given information the track signal was of a 2008 Caterpillar 287C skid steer loader stolen from a highway construction site in Raleigh, NC on December 9, 2013.
Inspector Becker contacted Inspector Joshua Tripp (assigned to cover Jones County) to aid in the track to recovery. The Inspectors and Deputies of the Jones County Sheriff Office used the directional and audible LoJack signal to guide them to a farm off NC Hwy 58 and Piney Grove Road in the Pollocksville area of Jones County. There officers found the2008 Caterpillar 287C skid steer sitting along the tree line of a cultivated field. Additionally, a John Deere mulching head attachment and a Pro-Line trailer were located near the skid steer. The PIN of the mulching attachment and the VIN of the trailer were shown as stolen during July 2013 from Garner, NC. The recovery site land owner was identified and interviewed. Statements were given that indicated the land owner had purchased the three stolen pieces of equipment during December 2013 from a person from South Carolina. The three pieces of equipment had a recovery value of greater than $93,000.00.
The Inspectors interviewed multiple people believed to be involved in this recovery case; a primary suspect was later identified. As a result of the initial interviews, information was received that lead to a traffic stop on NC Highway 41 near Trenton, NC on Monday, December 15, 2014. The vehicle driver, a salvage yard owner, was found to be in possession of a stolen 2011 Caterpillar 304D mini excavator stolen from a paving company of Conway, South Carolina. Based on this recovery and other leads, Inspectors and Jones County Sheriff Deputies went to an undisclosed location and found a 2007 Caterpillar 287C skid steer stolen from a trucking company of Lugoff, South Carolina. The two pieces of equipment had a recovery value of greater than $105,000.00
This investigation concluded with the arrest of two persons on a total of (5) felony charge of Possession of Stolen Property and Possession of Stolen Vehicles having a total recovery value of greater than $198,000.00.