More out-of-town thieves hit Local 6 area

In September, law enforcement arrested three men for stealing more than tens of thousands of dollars worth of electronics from an area Walmart. Police say all three men were from Nashville and part of a crime ring.

More law enforcement agencies are investigating similar incidents. Both Benton and Mayfield area Walmarts are investigating these thefts.

Benton Police Chief, Tracy Watwood says crime has increased over 300 percent in the last year, “When crime in Benton is committed by people from Benton those days are completely over. We went through a pattern when we saw crime committed in Benton from McCracken County. Now you’re seeing crimes from individuals from states away.”

But now, police say the out-of-town thieves are targeting local businesses.

Polaris of Benton owner, Brian Seford says he’ll probably never see his stolen merchandise again, “Right now we have a little over $100,000 missing, and we’re still counting.”

Seford says he’s heard of similar incidents like this from other Polaris vendors, “Someone knows what they’re doing and they’ve hit other Polaris dealers in the area. Hopkinsville, Bowling Green. They know what they’re doing and the ignition system is simple enough they can hotwire them.”

Seford and police think the thieves were able to hotwire the ATV’s and drive them out through a large hole they cut in the fence from the back lot. With so much missing merchandise from his business, Seford says its disheartening. 

Marshall County Sheriff Kevin Byars says his office communicates with other law enforcement agencies, “We’ve noticed an increase in our thefts have gone up quite a bit as well.”

Byars says pre-empting out-of-town criminals is only effective to a point. Byars says they try to communicate with other agencies, but with staffing the way it is, they don’t get the culprits until they hit the area.

Illinois State Police found one of the trailers the thieves used to transport the ATV’s close to Chicago. The Polaris of Benton is offering a $5,000 reward to anyone with information. 

The Polaris in Benton told me they plan on filing with their insurance and don’t think the loss will trickle down to their customers.

Police remind you to keep your cars and homes locked, and if you think you see anything suspicious around your neighborhood to document and report it to police.

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