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4 charged in alleged multistate theft ring
BENTON, Mo. — Scott County officers have arrested four Southeast Missouri men in connection with a suspected larceny ring spanning nine states and involving hundreds of thousands, and possibly millions, of dollars.
Larry Dixon, 37, of Advance, Mo., Brian Lambert, 37, of Sikeston, Mo., Brian Burton, no age given, of Benton, Mo., and Gregory Casey, 33, of Sikeston were charged with conspiracy to commit auto theft, Sheriff Rick Walter said Wednesday.
Bond was set at $1 million for Casey and at $750,000 for the other three. All of the men are being held in the Scott County Jail but may be extradited to DeKalb County, Ill., the suspected base of the ring, to face potential related charges, Walter said.
The investigation began in January, when a search of two storage facilities in DeKalb County led to the recovery of suspected stolen items. Shortly thereafter, Mark Wright, the suspected ringleader, was arrested in DeKalb County and charged for his alleged part in the ring. According to the Daily Chronicle newspaper in DeKalb County, Wright faces 23 felony charges and is being held on a $2 million bond.
A search warrant was issued for Wright's property, a lavish, three-story log cabin. About $500,000 worth of stolen goods, including cars, boats, trailers, tools and even deep-sea fishing equipment, was recovered. In addition, counterfeit bills were discovered at the residence, getting officials from the U.S. Secret Service involved in the case, Walter said.
One Sikeston man victimized by the larceny ring lost his entire tool trailer when thieves hooked it up to another vehicle and towed it away.
To date, eight people have been arrested in connection with the larceny ring, including Wright's mother, Sandra Seabright, Scott County investigator Gregg Ourth said.
"There are a lot of jurisdictions looking at this," Walter said.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol, New Madrid County Sheriff's Department, Mississippi County Sheriff's Department, Sikeston Department of Public Safety, Stoddard County Sheriff's Department, DeKalb County Sheriff's Department and Internal Revenue Service have all assisted with the investigation.
The suspects are accused of selling stolen goods on eBay. So far victims in Iowa, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, Illinois, Arkansas, California and Mississippi have been identified, but the reach of the ring may extend even farther across the country, making it impossible to determine a total number of victims or even estimated worth of stolen goods, Walter said.
"We still don't know how far this investigation is going to go," he said.
Several victims have already contacted Scott County authorities inquiring about recovering some of the stolen items.
The ring was so complex and the distribution of merchandise so widespread that recovering all the stolen goods will be a long and expensive endeavor, Ourth said.
335-6611, extension 245