By Paul J. Seeling, Gateway News
with press release from James Mitchell, Pierce County Sheriff's Office
SPRING VALLEY, WI – On Saturday February 11, the Pierce County Sheriff’s Dept received a call from a victim who believed their stolen skid steer was located at a property at N7082 330th St – Spring Valley, Wisconsin in the Town of Gilman (Pierce County), WI.
The investigation started with verifying the initial information, and the follow up investigation resulted in a search warrant being authorized for this residence and outside buildings.
During the execution of the search warrant the original information that started the investigation resulted in the recovery of the 2012 CAT skid steer, which had been stolen from St. Paul.
A search of trailers and vehicles located on the property resulted in Investigators finding a stolen Dodge Truck, and 13 cargo and enclosed trailers located on the farm property which is titled to Honeycrest Farms, Inc. according to Pierce County tax records as the property owner. But per a phone conversation with Sheriff’s Investigator Marty Shepler the property is under Land Contract to Roy Berger the resident who resides in the house on the property and has been cooperating with the Sheriff’s Office.
Ten of these trailers have been confirmed stolen from the Twin Cities MN area.
A review of all property resulted in a 2004 Kubota tractor along with the dump trailer and ATV that had been reported stolen in December 2016.
The search warrant was executed over two days, and this investigation is active since the process of contacting the police agencies, to obtain the stolen police reports from the victims along with verifying the status of property that is believed to be stolen will need additional follow up.
According to Investigator Shepler all but two of the trailers' owners have been accounted for, and he has spent much of his time on Tuesday, February 14, taking phone calls from people wondering if their trailer is one of the recovered ones.
The case remains under investigation. At this time, no suspects have been taken into custody.
The Sun-Argus met with Roy Berger on Tuesday, February 14, and he said, “I trusted a really good friend (no name given at this time) who told me he was the agent between the buyer and seller of this equipment. I had known him for 20 years. He just asked to store the stuff here.”
Berger, who was very willing to share his story with the Sun-Argus, continued, “First he was going to give me a commission from the sales to pay for the storage out here, but I never saw any of that. He bought me groceries. He is from the Twin Cities.”
The easy-going Berger said he had yelled at a TV newsperson from Channel 5 out of the Cities when she came on his property without permission and he regrets having done that.
“I’ve spent 60 years making sure I have an impeccable reputation and now he’s ruined it. I want my neighbors to know I am not a thief,” said Berger as we finished talking in the cold wind in his driveway.
Gateway News will issue updates as more information on this becomes available.