After unknowingly buying stolen equipment, business owner out $3 -

After unknowingly buying stolen equipment, business owner out $34,000 with no recourse

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CASEYVILLE, Il ( -- In March, Sean Turner needed a mini excavator for his business. The Caseyville, Illinois man often buys heavy machinery without issue, but this time the purchase went south in a hurry.

After calling around, Turner found a Bobcat dealer in Fairview Heights. The dealership called and told him they had the equipment he needed, as they’d just taken one on consignment.

$34,000 later, Turner had his excavator. Almost immediately, he had a call from a Potosi police officer.

“He said, ‘you have a stolen piece of equipment and I want you to give it to me,’” Turner recalled.

Eventually, the Illinois Secretary of State police got involved and confiscated his newly purchased equipment. No refund, no excavator, no recourse.

It's a complex and bizarre case that Turner’s attempted to unravel for months.

The equipment was sold on consignment, which means it didn't belong to the Bobcat dealer. In fact, it had passed through multiple owners on its way to Turner.

The bill of sale lists a company called Heet Excavating. That company purchased it from a company called Chartrand Equipment in Red Bud, Illinois.

An employee at Chartrand Equipment said they purchased it from someone in Missouri.  

The police chief in Potosi said the excavator belonged to a company in Potosi, not the man who sold it to Chartrand.

“The original owner took it to mechanic shop to have work done and something happened between them and the mechanic shop, and it was sold to Chartrand,” Turner said.  

Unlike cars, heavy equipment doesn't come with a title, so tracking it’s history is difficult.

A representative with Heet Excavating said he uses a website called Machinery Trader to search serial numbers to make sure equipment isn't stolen.

At the Bobcat dealership they search a Bobcat database, and also search for mechanic’s license. In this case, those searches didn't help because the original owner didn't report the Bobcat stolen until after Turner bought it in Illinois.

The result has been a costly nightmare for the last one holding the equipment.

“I have a loan with the bank,” Turner said. “I am making a payment with nothing to show for it.”

Potosi police say they know the identity of the thief and and their investigation will be turned over to the prosecutor’s office.

A Bobcat manager told me they would offer turner a refund if the equipment sold off their lot actually belonged to them, but because it was sold on consignment Turner needs to take it up with Heet.

A Heet representative says the equipment wasn't listed as stolen when they sold it or bought it, so for now Turner is left twisting in the wind.

At this point, the person who appears most responsible hasn't been charged with a crime. If that happens, and Turner can get any recourse, we will let you know.

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