Thursday, March 20, 2014

Montesano, Washington: Storage unit thieves make off with $250K in aircraft equipment - Anyone with information should contact the Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Office

Thieves made off with around $250,000 in aviation materials after a break-in at a Montesano storage business Saturday. The Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Office believes the thefts may be related to break-ins at a storage business just outside Aberdeen a day earlier.

Henry Thomas said he got a call Saturday morning that his storage unit had been broken into. Inside, he said, were materials for helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft, as well as parts for jet turbines and various exotic metals and tools used for their repair. Some of the parts date back to World War II.

“Whoever did this was extremely organized and had heavy lifting trucks,” Thomas said.

The manager of Glenn Road Mini Storage noticed Saturday five storage units had a different type of lock than the business uses. Only two of the units were rented, the locks cut off in order to gain entry.

Chief Criminal Deputy Steve Shumate said the thief or thieves likely added new locks in order to hide the crime.

When Thomas arrived, he said he found about two-thirds of his storage unit cleaned out, including the aircraft parts and and “incredible fishing tackle that was still new in the box from 1912.”

On seeing the unit, Thomas was so distraught he wasn’t initially able to talk with the responding deputy about what was missing, Shumate said. He was later able to provide a list of the items and is working with his insurance company.

Thomas is a retired U.S. Coast Guard aviator and U.S. Air Force navigator.

Shumate said at least three units at Hilltop Storage outside Aberdeen were also broken into March 14. A washer and dryer set and various tools are among the stolen items listed so far. Victims have been working with the Sheriff’s Office to catalogue what was taken.

“This all appears to be during business hours, during the day,” Shumate said. “Our subjects are showing up, probably acting as if they are clients or tenants, and when people aren’t looking, cutting the locks and taking items of value.”

Anyone with information should contact the Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Office at 360-249-3711, or the Grays Harbor Dispatch Center at 360-533-8765 if after hours.