March 22 • 08:33 AM

Theft ring is busted

Allenton Tavern, Dryden Road home searched in investigation

September 30, 2009
TRI-CITY AREA — Police believe they've crippled a major tractor and ATV theft ring with connections to Lapeer and St. Clair County.

On Friday, several search warrants related to the case were carried out, including two in Berlin Twp.—at a Dryden Rd. home and the Allenton Tavern. Close to $80,000 in stolen property, $100,000 in suspected proceeds, a quantity of drugs and a unregistered firearm were recovered in all.

According to the Sanilac Sheriff Department, a Polaris Ranger ATV, 4120 John Deere Tractor and Kubota ATV were recovered at the Dryden Road home. They were stolen from dealerships in Sandusky in Sanilac County and two unnamed dealerships in Lapeer County.

Sanilac Sheriff Gary Binecki said the arrest of a Dryden man, Gari Middleton, earlier in September for his alleged role in the thefts led them to the Dryden Road home.

"A major break in the ever widening investigation came with the Drug Task Force utilizing the county's Aero Squadron...flying over a parcel of land believed to belong to one of the suspects...located in the 16000 block of Dryden Road," Binecki said.

The St. Clair County Sheriff Department reports that a number of tractor keys, believed to belong to the stolen equipment, were found at the Allenton Tavern on Capac Rd. along with a quantity of marijuana and an unregistered handgun. That led to the arrest of a 45 year-old Romeo man at the scene who's since been released from custody pending further investigation.

Searches conducted in Romeo, Leonard and Montrose led to the discovery of two new zero turn lawn mowers. Several other persons at the search sites were interviewed by police about the theft ring.

"The investigation remains open and additional arrests are expected," Sanilac County Sheriff Gary Binecki said.

In addition to the Sanilac and St. Clair County Sheriff Departments, additional participating agencies included the Sanilac County Drug Task Force, Lapeer County Sheriff Department, Genesee County Sheriff Department, Macomb County Sheriff Department, Michigan State Police Auto Theft Task Force and the St. Clair County Drug Task Force.

"I am happy our office was able to assist Sanilac County in this investigation," St. Clair Sheriff Tim Donnellon said said.

"The cooperation and coordination by so many departments in the execution of these search warrants show the professionalism and diligence of the law enforcement community."

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