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Sheriff seeks to return cache of stolen property

STANLEY, N.D.  (A.P.)— The Mountrail County Sheriff’s Office is trying to track down the owners of stolen items recovered during a two-year investigation into thefts in four counties and on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of items were recovered, Sheriff Ken Halvorson said. Some items have been returned to owners. Halvorson said he doesn’t know how much longer his office can store the remaining items before it has to auction them off to create space in the county’s impound building.

“We would much rather get it back to the rightful owner,” Chief Deputy Corey Bristol said.

About 80 percent of the thefts in Mountrail, McKenzie, Burleigh and Ward counties and on the reservation occurred at oil field sites, according to Deputy Tim Helmer. Stolen items included tools, trailers, fuel tanks, generators, heaters, acetylene tanks and tires.

Many oil companies might have simply replaced the items and not filed theft reports, authorities said.

“One of the things we want to emphasize is if they have a loss, report it,” Halvorson said. “It helps immensely.”

Items also were taken from construction sites in the Bismarck area. Bristol said many of the owners had labeled the items, making their return easier.

The break in the case for law enforcement came when Daniel Gay, of New Town, was confronted by an oil field worker while allegedly stealing diesel fuel last year. Gay pleaded guilty to theft and drug charges in March and was sentenced to serve two years in prison.

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