A Stratford man remains jailed on several complaints after a stolen trailer from Shawnee led police to link the suspect to at least 20 other stolen trailer cases. Shawnee Police Detective Ronnie Wilson said a trailer was stolen from the Shawnee area Nov. 9, with the owner passing video on police and giving officers a description of the suspect vehicle. Detective Greg Gibson noticed the vehicle and followed it, Wilson said, before Cpl. Dan Shumaker conducted a traffic stop. Wilson said Steven Barnett, 30, had an outstanding warrant for charges filed Oct. 29 in another trailer theft case and was arrested. Detective Wilson and Detective Charles Swantek searched the vehicle and discovered a pawn ticket, Wilson said.
After checking pawn shops, Wilson said police discovered Barnett had allegedly pawned eight different trailers over the past 30 days. Police tracked the stolen trailer from Shawnee and traced it to being stolen and then sold and bought again at least three times. Wilson said a unknowing citizen has likely purchased the stolen trailer, so thus far, it hasn’t been recovered. Barnett allegedly confessed to six of the stolen trailers, Wilson said, but police believed Barnett may have been involved in as many as 20 trailer thefts.
Barnett was recently charged in Pottawatomie County District Court with false declaration of ownership and pawn and grand larceny involving a trailer stolen from Tecumseh. In that case, the Pottawatomie Count sheriff’s office and Tecumseh police investigated a trailer theft that occurred Sept. 20.
Wilson said trailer thefts are a big problem and police believe there are many repeat offenders working this area.
The biggest problem is there’s no registration for utility trailers, and most don’t have any type of serial number or identification on them, making it difficult for police to track down stolen ones, he said.
Those who own trailers are cautioned to keep them locked up and take precautions, such as putting some type of identification numbers, names or similar identifiers in several places on the trailer. A welder can place such numbers on the trailer and owners also should photograph their trailer for easy identification.
Taking a “little bit of time and a little bit of money,” to mark trailers can help police in these types of investigations. Further charges are pending for Barnett, who remains jailed on $20,000 bond for the first case.