State police believe theft ring stole $1 million in truck parts

January 12, 1991|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Peter Hermann is a reporter for the Anne Arundel County Sun, a suburban edition of The Baltimore Sun.

Maryland State Police are investigating a theft ring they believe is responsible for stealing more than $1 million worth of truck parts in Anne Arundel, Prince George's and Charles counties over the past year.

Since last July, investigators have executed seven search and seizure warrants at trucking companies in the three counties -- seizing more than $500,000 in stolen parts ranging from tires and wheels to engines.

State police have not made any arrests, but a spokesman said yesterday that they will turn evidence over to an Anne Arundel County grand jury within the next several weeks, when the investigation is concluded.

"We won't know how large this is until we conclude the investigation," said Chuck Jackson, the spokesman. "It could exceed a million dollars in stolen parts when we connect the JTC findings of this investigation with others being conducted in other areas, particularly Washington."

One of the raids conducted during the investigation took place last month at Trapp Trucking, a small firm in the northern Anne Arundel County community of Linthicum.

Mr. Jackson said police seized six 10-wheel, double-axle dump trucks containing stolen engine and drive-train parts, 50 large truck tires, tire rims worth $25,000, and dye stamps, which Mr. Jackson said may have been used to stamp fake serial numbers on the parts.

The raid at Trapp's netted truck parts worth more than $500,000, Jackson said. But he would not say what role, if any, the trucking company played in the theft ring.

Elwood G. Trapp Jr., owner of Trapp Trucking, said he knows nothing about stolen parts in trucks and said since police haven't charged him "they must not have much." He said police have returned three of the trucks they seized.

"If anything, we have a hell of a case against the police for holding our equipment wrongfully," Mr. Trapp said.

Mr. Jackson said the raid at Trapp Trucking was one of the few raids in which police seized truck parts, although he declined to elaborate.

He said police found mostly information to support the investigation during the the other raids, including one last month at Maryland Paving and Sealant on Brock Bridge Road in Laurel.

But owner of the company, Dave Jones, said police spent six hours searching and found nothing.

"They said we had stolen dump trucks out here," Mr. Jones said. "I told them they were crazy. . . . All it amounted to was six hours of harassment. They walked out of here looking like fools."

Mr. Jackson said investigators have witnessed members of the theft ring steal thousands of dollars worth of truck engines and other parts, but didn't arrest anyone because they were compiling the information to be sent to the grand jury.

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