Thieves have been targeting unsecured construction sites and heavy equipment rental shops, stealing everything from backhoes and excavators and then, according to police, selling them as refurbished.
At LAX Equipment Inc., a heavy equipment local rental business in Inglewood, Gustavo Martinez told CBSLA that two crooks recently stole two forklifts.
The thieves rented the machines with stolen credit cards and never returned them. LAX Equipment tried to call the numbers the robbers left behind, but no one picked up.
“Probably the phone they gave us was a fake one too, ” Martinez said, adding that the equipment is easy to fence because it’s in high demand. “On the street, warehouses, I mean most of the time, everywhere. ”
Just a few days later, though, the taken forklifts showed up for sale on OfferUp, an online, mobile forward marketplace where people buy and sell all kinds of things.
“You know, sadly within today’s day and age, a lot of items get thieved and are found on OfferUp, ” Cpt. Neal Cochran with the Inglewood Police Department told CBSLA.
Cochran said his detectives tracked the nicked forklifts to a warehouse in the City of Commerce, where they served the search warrant.
Inside, police found 120 forklifts, 37 structure grade products and 10 generated lights that are usually used on worksites, all of which had a value of around $5 million.
“They even experienced a Zamboni, those ice cleaners for skating rinks, ” Cpt. Cochran said.
That warehouse, police said, is a chop shop where serial numbers are grinded down and repainted with new serial figures. Then, robbers attempt in order to sell the particular construction grade equipment as refurbished.
Much of the stolen design equipment comes from unprotected job websites that are usually targeted in the middle of the night, and law enforcement said they’re preparing to serve search warrants at three or four additional warehouses these people believe are storing stolen machinery.
As for the recovered heavy equipment, the serial numbers have been ground down, so authorities are usually hoping that will some owners may recognize their taken property and come forward. Anyone who does identify their thieved equipment can contact Inglewood Police at [email protected] org .