The Ozark County Sheriff's Department may have discovered a regional theft ring Thursday when Sgt. Dale Schofield, acting on a tip from the Howell County Sheriff's Department, identified several stolen vehicles at a residence near Liner in southeast Ozark County.
Schofield said a Howell County deputy called him Thursday saying a stolen four-wheeler was believed to be located at a residence on J Highway. The residence turned out to be on T Highway, east of J, said Sheriff Raymond Pace.
Schofield said he and Deputies Kenny Hannaford and Lee Bearden "went by the property and saw what looked to be the four-wheeler Howell County had described."
The deputies knocked on the door and told the resident, who is not being identified pending charges, that they believed he had stolen property in his possession. The man signed a permission form allowing the deputies to search his place; they called in VIN numbers to the sheriff's office dispatcher and discovered that several of the vehicles parked at the residence had been reported stolen.
Among the items was a Honda Recon four-wheeler, a ten-foot box trailer, two personal watercraft on a trailer and "a 16-foot flatbed trailer with no VIN number, which is illegal in itself," Schofield said.
The personal watercraft had been reported stolen from Tri-Lakes Marine in Christian County, he said. The flatbed trailer had been reported stolen from South Fork Trailer Sales in Howell County; the identity of stolen four-wheeler's owner was not available at press time.
The Liner man told deputies he had "met people in parking lots and gotten the stuff," Schofield said. Information has been turned over to Prosecuting Attorney Tom Cline, who is considering filing charges, Pace said.