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Pawhuska police track down stolen trailer

Robert Smith

It can be frustrating for business managers and owners to lose valuable company property because of theft, so when law officers are able to recover stolen items and return them it is a source of relief and pleasure.

Roger Taylor, manager of Formby Oil & Propane Co., of Pawhuska, expressed that relief and pleasure last week, when Pawhuska police were able to work with officers in Wichita, Kansas, to locate and retrieve a stolen utility trailer. Formby is a subsidiary of Cleveland Petroleum Products.

Taylor said a 16-foot, double-axle utility trailer was stolen in the late morning of Friday, July 17, from the Formby Oil & Propane storage plant property across Oklahoma 60 from Bad Brad’s restaurant.

Taylor checked that property about 2 p.m. July 17 and found that the trailer was missing. The company’s IT specialist was able to look at surveillance video of the storage site and see a visual record of the theft, which involved a man and a woman pulling up in an older-model Chevrolet Tahoe and taking the trailer.

In less than a week, with help from Wichita police, Pawhuska’s interim police chief, Lorrie Hennesy, was able to track down the trailer. She used Formby’s video, as well as online resources and collaboration with Wichita officers to figure out where the trailer had been taken.

The investigation also profited from the cooperation of the Osage County Sheriff’s Office, which provided intelligence about where the stolen trailer might have been taken.

Taylor, who is also a member of the Pawhuska City Council, said the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) had been scraped off the trailer and a new coat of paint had been applied, and the owner of the Tahoe that allegedly was used to haul the trailer from Pawhuska to Kansas is reported to have said someone borrowed his vehicle and they took it to Oklahoma.

Taylor said Hennesy told him she thought the chances of Formby getting the trailer back were high, and by Wednesday morning, July 22, Formby received a call from the Wichita police to notify the company that its trailer was available for pickup in the department’s impound lot.

A Formby employee and her husband picked up the trailer last Friday.

Taylor offered his thanks, as a businessman and a Pawhuska resident, to both Hennesy and Sheriff Eddie Virden for their assistance.

“We were pretty fortunate to have that kind of result that fast,” Taylor said.

He related that his boss commented, “I can’t believe you got it back.”

Taylor said that his point of view in offering public thanks to the Pawhuska police was that of a business person and a citizen, more than that of a city councilor.

“I think she (Hennesy) just went above and beyond,” Taylor said.