Part I of the “OUI that snowballed” ended with me getting ready to obtain a search warrant to recover a stolen piece of equipment parked on the floor at a local business [Dec. 29, 2010 edition of TRJ].

The tricky part was to not compromise the identity of the informant (C1) so the investigation could continue. That part of the endeavor was accomplished and a warrant was issued.

A couple of other troopers and I raided the business and right there in the middle of the building was a piece of stolen equipment from Connecticut. It weighed well over 500 pounds, though, so it wasn’t like we could pick it up and load it in the trunk of my cruiser. So I enlisted a local wrecker operator to haul it to a safe location.

Here’s the problem with that arrangement. Nearly everyone in Greenville was somehow related or connected. It was a reputable wrecker service and one I had used many times before to haul cars from motor-vehicle accidents. I never considered the wrecker guy could be connected to the suspected criminal. But I was wrong.

When the warrant was executed, the suspected criminal was at a sportsmen’s show out of state. Even before the wrecker had hooked on to the stolen equipment, I received a phone call from the suspect’s attorney telling me to take only what was listed in the warrant and then to leave.

I promptly advised him that we would leave when we were done processing the scene. I couldn’t resist asking who in the world had contacted him so soon. He told me that his client, the suspect, had called him from out of state. And who called the suspect? The wrecker driver.

I learned later from a friend attending that same sportsmen’s show that he saw the suspect enter the show, dismantle his booth, pack up and leave. When my friend returned home and learned about the search warrant, it suddenly made sense as to why the suspect had left the show so abruptly.

Having the stolen equipment in my custody made me feel a lot better. It was time to listen to again to C1. For the time being, though, I had to wait.

I contacted the suspect regarding setting up an interview about how in the world a piece of stolen equipment had landed in his building. I knew it would be awhile before he arrived back in Greenville to tell me.

The second part of this investigation was initiated at about the same time. While waiting for the suspect’s return, I followed up on a suspicious vehicle buried weeks before in the snow. The snow had melted a bit since then and I thought that more of the vehicle would be visible. I went to the location and sure enough, I could spy more of the cab.

Not wanting to wait for spring, I hiked to the partially buried vehicle and dug around the door. The truck was brand new and my suspicions were growing. Why in the world would this vehicle be parked here throughout the winter?

The only way to reach it was through a set of sporting camps owned by a local barkeep who was well connected to the underbelly of life. Nothing he did surprised me.

I finally dug to a depth where I could open the truck door and obtain the VIN. I trudged back to the cruiser and asked headquarters in Augusta to run the number in NCIC. It came back as being stolen out of New Jersey. Just how in the world did this vehicle land in the middle of nowhere after having been swiped from a car dealership in Cherry Hill, N.J.? Hmmm.

Tune in next time as this story continues absorbing years of my career.

Just another day in the life.

Mark Nickerson is a retired Maine State Police trooper. The 28-year veteran lives in Unity. The award-winning columnist may be reached at menick@uninet.net.