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Investigator: Dealerships targeted by theft rings

Tractors for sale at a dealership in Oklahoma. (KOKH/Matt Coon/file)

Oklahoma dealerships, have been robbed of hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment, in just the past couple of months, an investigator with the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture said. He has a warning for businesses that sell things like trailers and ATV's.

"Since the first week of February, multiple thefts have occurred at dealerships which sell zero turn mowers, ATV's, UTV's, and flatbed trailers," Paul Cornett wrote in a message to people on social media.

In one case in Kingfisher County, the department was called in to help investigate, Cornett wrote, agents recovered more than $500,000 in stolen property, but more was still missing.

He wants dealership owners to take note, and take extra steps to secure all of their merchandise. He said, organized theft rings were stealing items, even without keys and that locked gates or chains did not stop them.

Related: Agriculture thefts on the rise

"These thefts are part of an organized theft ring," he wrote, "with as many as 6-8 suspects and multiple vehicles being involved. When these thefts have occurred, the suspects have used several 'lookouts' who are parked nearby with their headlights off, and who notify the other suspects when vehicles are approaching the theft area."

Related: Metro home builder, five others charged with conspiracy to sell stolen property

He said people in the community should also beware, and report any suspicious activity, like someone hauling multiple pieces of equipment in the middle of the night.

He said people looking to buy, should only buy from reputable dealers, in order to avoid buying stolen equipment.

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