Cargo Trailer Thief Strikes 7 Times, Turns Them Into Scrap

Surveillance video shows stolen cargo being reduced to scrap in less than three minutes

By Vince Lattanzio
|  Friday, Nov 22, 2013  |  Updated 1:05 AM EDT
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This is one of those capers that you really may have to see to believe.

NBC10.com

This is one of those capers that you really may have to see to believe.

Detectives are searching for a cargo trailer bandit who's struck more than half a dozen times in South Jersey. In the each case, the trailers were turned into scrap.

At least seven, 53-foot long truck trailers were boosted from businesses around Pennsauken, Camden County, N.J. over a five hour span early Sunday morning, Pennsauken Police said. Some were stolen from lots along Hylton Road and Commerce Parkway, others from along Route 73.

"This individual used a stolen tractor to back up to seven separate trailers at four different locations in our town," Pennsauken Police Det. Paul McClauseland said. "He takes time to hook up air, breaks and lights."

Using two stolen trucks, the suspect then drove the trailers -- which are worth between $5,000 and $20,000 -- over the Delaware River into Philadelphia. Surveillance video from the Betsy Ross and Tacony-Palmyra Bridges shows the thief passing through the tolls on each trip.

"I would say it's pretty bold to cross the bridge seven times in a stolen truck," McClauseland said.

Arriving in the city, the suspect drove the stolen cargo to Green Dog Recycling at 2335 Wheatsheaf Lane in the Port Richmond section of the city, where each trailer was scrapped.

Video of the stolen trailers being broken down by a claw machine shows how the rectangular container is turned into sheets of metal in less than three minutes.

Each scrapped trailer earned the thief $1,000 cash, McClauseland said.

"For what, five and a half hours of work, he walked away with $7,000," McClausland said.

NBC10's Cydney Long attempted to ask Michael Williams, the owner of Green Dog Recycling, about the incidents, but he would not agree to an interview.

However, Williams did say that Pennsylvania law does not require someone to provide proof of ownership of an item being sold for scrap. The owner can simply show their driver's license or a bill of lading, which is a shipment document.

Jamie Arking, of the liquor store chain Rodger Wilco, had one of his trailer's stolen right from the loading dock.

"I find it surprising he could get away with it so easily," he said. "I certainly want the guy caught. For us, we're out $5,000 so it doesn't quite seem fair."

Truck rental company Penske also had trailers stolen from their stock. In a statement the company thanked law enforcement for the quick police work.

"The holidays are an exceptionally busy time for us. These stolen trailers were an integral part of the rental services we provide to local businesses to haul their freight. Fortunately, Penske has one of the largest fleets in the trucking industry and can rebound quickly," the statement read in part.

McClausland said police do know who the suspect is, but are still working to locate him since he uses several aliases. They hope to nab him soon.

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