Two chainsaws, worth about $600 each, were stolen by two men from the Ace Hardware store in Sumpter Township during business hours on Oct. 12.
Then, the next day, about the same time, two men returned and tried to do it again, but the hardware store owners had chained down the saws this time and the thieves were unsuccessful.
Store employees recognized one of the men from the previous day’s robbery and said so, scaring them off. One of the employees chased the getaway car but it got away.
Sumpter Police Chief Jim Pierce said he put together a new Special Investigation Unit, made up of his best investigators, to help solve such crimes.
Officers Danielle Buccellato, John Toth, and John Ashby have been investigating the Ace Hardware theft and have surveillance photos taken by Ace’s cameras. The pictures of the young suspects are very clear and they are hoping someone in the community will recognize them, so the pictures are being disseminated.
Officer Buccellato said there are at least three people involved in the case of retail fraud over $1,000. There were two from the first day, plus the getaway driver. On the second day, there was one familiar face and one unfamiliar face in the store trying to take the chained-up saws, plus the driver of the getaway car.
According to Buccellato’s report, the call came in at 5:44 p.m. on Oct. 12, and she was dispatched to the area of Willis and Sumpter for a larceny in progress at Ace Hardware.
The caller said the two subjects ran out of the store with two chain saws and headed either southbound on Sumpter Road from Willis or westbound on Willis from Sumpter.
The vehicle is described as a silver 1997 or so, Ford Taurus with a paper plate in the back window and a hubcap missing on the driver’s side. Also, there may be slight body damage on the driver’s side of the vehicle.
Buccellato said she did not see any such car in the area when she responded on Oct. 12.
Another witness said it may have been a light tan vehicle, a Ford Taurus or Mercury Sable with no plate (but surveillance tapes showed it was a silver Taurus). The witness also said he observed the same vehicle driving around in the parking lot earlier.
The two male suspects that stole the saws were described by witnesses. One was tall, thin, with brown hair, glasses and a mustache in his early 20s. The second man was short, heavy set, with brown hair, also in his 20s.
A witness said both suspects had been in the store earlier and has asked to use the restroom, but were advised there was no public restroom. The suspects left the store and returned later, inquiring about the chain saws. That’s when the grabbed the saws and ran out of the store.
The saws are described as:
* Stihl chain saw, model MS 200T, orange color, serial number #172047886, with a silver Stihl chain saw bar, serial number #30050004809.
* Stihl chain saw, model MS 391, orange color, serial number #281908750, with a silver Stihl chain saw bar, serial number #30030008822.
Officer Buccellato said the surveillance tapes show that when the two grabbed the chain saws, they ran out and the silver Taurus had been pulled up to the door and the trunk had been popped by the driver. The saws were put into the truck, the men entered the vehicle, and the car took off and escaped.
On the second day, when the saws were secured, one man from the first day and a different person came in to try to take more saws. When an employee recognized one of the men, they ran out of the store and the car had been pulled up again and the driver had popped the trunk.
One of the men slammed down the trunk as he ran by and got into the driver’s seat. The driver had moved over to the passenger seat when the fleeing man approached the car.
The car is believed to have gone westbound on Willis both days.
Buccellato said the third person is in the surveillance tapes, but his face is covered with a hoodie and cannot be recognized.
Those with any information on the case are asked to call the investigative team at 461-6898. Tips can remain anonymous, Buccellato said.