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Alert viewer leads cops to stolen $100,000 excavator
Published:2016-06-28 16:27:06    Text Size:【BIG】【MEDIUM】【SMALL
Summary:An expensive excavator was recovered in Washington after a viewer saw a picture of the stolen machine on the news. (Cowlitz County Sheriff's Office)

A stolen excavator worth more than $100,000 was recovered near Kelso, Washington, after an alert viewer saw a picture of the machine on the news and then spotted the real thing near his house over the weekend, authorities said.

Dale E. Nease, a 56-year-old resident of Castle Rock, was arrested in connection to the stolen rig, the Cowlitz County Sheriff said in a statement.

The investigation began Saturday when a man living in the Lexington area, north of Kelso, saw a picture of the 2016 Link Belt excavator on the KPTV newscast. Soon after, the man spotted an identical model down the street from his home and called authorities to report it.

Responding deputies saw that the ignition on the $110,000 machine had been punched out and the company logo had been scraped off with a wire brush. A quick check of the serial number revealed the excavator belonged to Ridgefield-based Thompson Brothers Excavation.

Investigators learned the machine had been brought to the location where it was found by Nease who, when questioned, had several stories about how he came to be in possession of the stolen rig, officials said.

Nease had already sold the machine to his ex-father-in-law on a contract, the sheriff's office said, but it didn't appear that the recipient of the excavator knew it was stolen when he bought it.

As of Monday afternoon, Nease was being held without bail in Cowlitz County jail  on suspicion of theft and trafficking in stolen property.

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