Police Search For Thieves Targeting Polaris Dealerships

Wednesday, May 2nd 2007, 7:40 pm
By: News On 6

Thieves frustrate police and business owners alike. Officers say the crooks are on a tear, hitting nine cities in the past few weeks. They've targeted Ceiling, Grove, Poteau, Edmond, Enid, Shawnee, Woodward, Fort Smith and Siloam Springs. Each time, they make off with high dollar ATVs, lawn mowers and utility vehicles. The thieves first steal a pickup, then find a gooseneck trailer to steal, then go to a Polaris dealership, break in and load up. News On 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright reports since April 10th, they've stolen half a million dollars worth of equipment.

The first thing you see when you walk into Tulsa's Polaris Outdoors store is a note on the door that says security has been increased. That's because they're worried the thieves will hit here next, and they're doing everything possible to prevent it. They point to the two-foot high concrete barrier around the front of the store, the outer gate that locks, the inner steel gate that locks and the cameras inside and outside. They move all units inside at night and hide the keys in a separate, secure area.

"Other dealers called us and warned us to take extra precautions,” said Polaris Outdoors general manager Brent Fulton. “It was very upsetting to us to spend the extra time every night, to put extra security on the building."

But, it must be done to protect high-dollar items like limited edition Polaris Rangers that sell in excess of $10,000 a piece. They've been a favorite target of the thieves.

"In Grove, they broke in through the front doors,” said Grove Police Sgt. Mark Sheridan. “Several other locations went through a fence, one location, they built a ramp and went over the fence."

Sheridan believes he has the suspects on tape. He says they stopped at the Buffalo Ranch on Highway 59 where they were caught on surveillance.

"They're getting bolder. In Enid, they spent three hours in the location from 3:30 in the morning to 6:30 in the morning," said Sheridan.

The folks at Polaris in Tulsa hope anyone driving on Highway 169 who sees suspicious activity overnight will call police. To them, it's about more than just protecting the property.

"Most important part of this is not so much keeping anything from being damaged, it's to catch these people from doing it to someone else," said Fulton.

These utility vehicles don't have titles, so they're hard to trace. This case has gotten so big, detectives from all nine agencies plan to meet with the OSBI next week, so they can share information and try to get leads.

None of the stolen trucks, trailers or ATVs has shown up anywhere. There's a black market for them, officers just have to find it.