DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – If you live in Ohio and pay taxes, listen up.
A 2 NEWS Investigation finds hundreds of items missing and stolen from the Ohio Department of Transportation.
You’ve paid more than $200,000 dollars for items the Ohio Department of Transportation has lost or reported stolen in the past three years.
But, it’s that stolen part that caught our attention because during our investigation we came across a thief’s dream.
2 NEWS Investigates dug through ODOT’s list of missing and stolen items and theft reports by the Ohio State Patrol.
We found there’s one place in particular that gets a lot of attention by thieves. Construction sites.
Dozens of items from those sites have been reported stolen from ODOT over the past three years.
“It’s sitting there, after hours, usually unattended at night,” said Sgt. Doug Elliott.
OSP investigators say construction thefts are common.
Our investigation found the most popular item stolen from ODOT sites are batteries from equipment left unattended.
“These pieces of equipment, the smaller they are, the easier they can be stolen. People can use pick ups, people can use small utility trailers to pick this stuff up and quickly move away from the scene,” said Sgt. Elliott.
Is ODOT doing enough to protect their property? They say they are
An ODOT spokesperson told me their crews rarely leave equipment at a site when no one is there but if they do, they’re trained to lock everything up and leave it out of sight to avoid theft.
But we found one instance where that wasn’t the case.
While I was tracking down some of that equipment for our investigation…I found an ODOT truck and trailer. It was parked, windows rolled down, running with the keys in the ignition with nobody around. An open invitation for a thief.
I stayed there for 30 minutes to see if anyone would come back. Nobody did.
We alerted ODOT about the lack of security we found and was told no one would answer questions on-camera. Instead, we received this statement admitting that wasn’t supposed to happen.
It said, “Under the right circumstances and under lock and key, there are times when we might leave a vehicle running. This was not one of those instances. It is unacceptable and we are reviewing this situation in order to correct it and communicate it with our employees to help make sure it does not happen again.”
ODOT said they do have tracking numbers on all their equipment and OSP tries to locate their stolen items.
“We are checking identification numbers to see if that equipment has been entered as stolen within the national database,” said Sgt. Elliott.
But right now success rate isn’t the best.
Natalie: “How often do you find this equipment?”
Sgt. Elliott: “Unfortunately it’s rather low. The last statistic I saw was about 20% of construction equipment that is stolen is actually recovered.”
OSP investigators tell they do occasionally set up stings at construction sites to catch thieves. They say if caught stealing from a construction site, you could face felony charges.