Using The Internet To Recover Stolen Saddles

Monday, October 16th 2006, 10:49 am
By: News On 6

Law enforcement in eastern Oklahoma is using the Internet to recover thousands of dollars in stolen saddles. The saddles were stolen earlier this year from a ranch in Delaware County.

News on 6 reporter Chris Wright has more on how investigators used eBay to get them back.

When you search for saddles on eBay, you get thousands of results. Acting on a tip, Delaware County Sheriff’s Office detectives browsed through the results and found what they were looking for, six saddles stolen from a ranch outside of Jay.

Detective Ronald Teel: "we set up an account on eBay, ended up being the high bidder, and made contact with the gentlemen who was going to sell the saddles."

Authorities believe their suspect, a 21-year-old from Joplin, stole the saddles, and then gave them to a second suspect in northwest Arkansas, who in turn put them online. Delaware County Sheriff’s Office detectives say eBay is appealing to criminals because it helps them maximize their profit. "You've kind of limited your scope of who you can sell it to. On eBay it's the World Wide Web, anyone can bid on it, purchase and have it shipped."

And the thieves were marketing some high-end saddles. The ones stolen are valued at more than $3,500 each. “You sell it for $1,800, $2,000, the rest of that makes you profit pretty quick."

Authorities recovered four of the saddles in Arkansas. The other two were already sold and shipped to Georgia and Michigan. Delaware County is working with authorities in those states to bring them back to Oklahoma.

Authorities say that saddle theft is always an issue in Delaware County, but having hot items show up on eBay is new to the area. And they warn anyone looking online for a saddle to be wary. "Like everything, if a deal is too good to be true, it may be for a reason."

The Delaware County Sheriff's Office expects a warrant to be issued soon for the suspect in Joplin. But because the second suspect did not commit any crimes in Oklahoma, whether or not he will face any charges is up to Arkansas authorities.

Authorities say if you have had anything stolen, it doesn't hurt to check eBay, you never know what will show up.