GREENUP COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) – More than $100,000 of stolen property will soon be returned to its rightful owners after a four-month undercover investigation by the Greenup County Sheriff’s Department.
“Around here, it pretty much always comes back to the drugs,” Sheriff Keith Cooper said.
Working with informants, Cooper and his deputies have been buying stolen vehicles undercover since April. Cooper said the thieves from whom he bought the vehicles acknowledged that they were stolen.
“It's all about the money,” Cooper said. “When you flash them a bankroll and they know that you can pay them, that’s what their whole incentive is and it kind of blinds them to who I really am.”
The six vehicles – four SUVs or trucks, one motorcycle and one all-terrain vehicle – were stored in remote parts of Greenup County after they were purchased from the thieves in Wurtland and off Industrial Parkway. On Friday, the department invited some of the vehicles’ owners to come get their property back.
Jim DeLong said the Harley trike stolen from his garage in June was his “dream bike” – customized to the tune of $45,000. Cooper said the thieves sold it to him for a little more than $4,000.
“We’re just kind of super happy that we got it back, and I really don't care why, as long as we get it back,” DeLong said.
Cooper noted that all of the vehicles were sold for less than what they were worth.
“They sell it really cheap, but they don't have a dime in it,” Cooper said. “I'm maybe not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I know there's something strange if he's going to sell me that bike for $4,000.”
Cooper also said that the thieves may have felt they were safe from law enforcement because the undercover officers bought vehicles from them more than once.
“Everybody watches ‘COPS’ and they think, ‘Well, if I sell it to him and he's the police, he's going to lock me up.’ Well, that's not necessarily the case,” Cooper said.
Three men have been indicted by a Greenup County grand jury in connection with these thefts. Shawn DeLong, 35, Gregory Cox, 42, and John Blair, 34, all of Ohio, have been indicted on charges of receiving stolen property. However, Cox is the only one who has been arrested so far.
In addition to the Greenup County Sheriff’s Department, other agencies from Ohio and Kentucky assisted in the investigation, as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
Cooper said the investigation is still in the works and there will likely be more arrests and indictments in the future.
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