For successfully implementing bait operations and recovering millions of dollars’ worth of equipment, Det. Matt Lewis, on behalf of the Riverside County (Calif.) Auto Interdiction Detail (RAID), and Cpl. Pat McGrail from the Hurst (Texas) Police Department, formerly with the Tarrant Regional Auto Theft Task Force, will receive the 2011 ARA Insurance/National Equipment Register (NER) Award at The Rental Show in New Orleans.
The two will be recognized for their equipment theft prevention and recovery during Lunch with ARA on Sunday, Feb. 5.
“The hard work and dedication of Det. Matt Lewis and the RAID team and Cpl. Pat McGrail have been outstanding and made a major dent in the area of equipment theft,” says Alysia Ryan, ARA’s liaison with NER on the association’s theft-prevention program. “We are so proud to honor their tireless efforts and successful recoveries.”
According to Crime Prevention Program of Southern California Investigator Lou Koven, who won the ARA Insurance/NER award in 2005, Lewis and other investigators with RAID, a state-funded vehicle theft task force, spearheaded and completed two major investigations, which resulted in the recovery of more than $400,000 worth of stolen rental equipment and the apprehension of multiple suspects involved in the theft and sale of this equipment.
“Much of the stolen rental equipment recovered in the first case was taken from active construction sites. The suspects then used fictitious paperwork to sell the equipment to other suspects. This was an attempt to hide the seller’s identity and cloud the ownership interest. In the second case, the main suspect was a prolific thief who used identity theft to illegitimately rent equipment. They then disposed of the equipment by either selling it or pawning it,” Koven says.
This investigation is in addition to the bait program that has used equipment loaned to the task force from Ahern Rentals. “In April of 2009, the RAID detail began a proactive law enforcement program of deploying decoy equipment and other items throughout Riverside County in an effort to identify and prosecute equipment thieves,” says Jarod Stockdale, CFI, national security director at Ahern Rentals, Las Vegas. “Within the first five months, they had made 35 arrests and recovered more than 25 stolen machines valued at just over $1.25 million. Total recovery of equipment for 2010 is valued over $2 million. For 2011, they are on track to exceed those impressive results,” he says.
“The RAID detail has an exceptional case record of prosecution, successfully gaining convictions and restitution orders against equipment theft suspects in ALL prosecutions over the past three years,” Stockdale says. As of December 2011, the RAID bait program has accounted for 83 thefts, 155 arrests, 112 convictions and 37 cases pending.
The task force has not only become “a dominant role model for other multi-agency task forces,” but also “their exceptional service has been the catalyst for theft numbers to decline three straight years in Riverside County,” Stockdale says.
For the four years that McGrail worked on the Tarrant Regional Auto Theft Task Force in Texas, he was involved in the recovery of more than $15 million worth of heavy equipment and “was instrumental in working with the equipment rental industry, creating a partnership between the Texas Rental Association and law enforcement,” says Cpl. Detective Daniel Pearson, supervisor of the Street Crimes Unit with the Haltom City, Texas, Police Department.
Pearson, who worked with McGrail on the task force and was the 2004 recipient of the ARA Insurance/NER award, says that this “strategic initiative developed into a successful pilot program that assisted other agencies throughout the state of Texas.”
Since returning to the Hurst Police Department, McGrail has continued to work closely with the rental industry and equipment owners in Texas to investigate and recover stolen heavy equipment. A major investigation of a heavy-equipment theft ring took place earlier in 2011 that involved several excavators.
“Pat went above and beyond, especially when you consider that the stolen equipment was initially reported and entered incorrectly by the reporting officer,” Pearson says.
“Thanks to McGrail’s efforts and tenacity in investigating the theft ring, he was personally responsible for coordinating the recovery of more than $1.6 million of heavy equipment in this single bust. As a result, multiple suspects were identified as well as trucking companies that were allegedly transporting the stolen heavy equipment across international borders,” he says.
“There is no doubt that Cpl. McGrail deserves this award and overall accolades for his dedication, knowledge and results in the equipment rental industry,” Pearson says.