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Thieves Targeting Snow-Removal Equipment

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Snow plow (CBS)

Snow plow (CBS)

Mike Parker Mike Parker
Mike Parker has been a general assignment reporter for CBS 2 Chicago...
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BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. (CBS) --  The snow drought this winter is hitting local snow-removal companies hard. But they’re also facing a crime wave — an expensive series of thefts targeting their vehicles and equipment, including high priced trucks.

CBS 2’s Mike Parker reports.

K.C. and Maggie Downer are well known in the business, even making the cover of the industry magazine “Snow Business.”  But their business is dicey right now, what with little or no snow and a rash of equipment thefts.

One of their plow trucks was stolen Monday in broad daylight from a mall parking lot in Bridgeview. Another truck in the same lot had the plow assembly ripped off and taken away. And last week, a $6,000 snow pusher unit was removed from its vehicle and stolen from a storage lot in Hickory Hills.

Downer concedes the snow pushers are easy to steal, saying it can be removed and stolen in about a minute.

The agent who insures the Downer family business says these crimes are happening across the snow belt and are often international in scope.

American Family Insurance agent Sam Rolph says it’s hard to track stolen equipment. Serial numbers are easy to grind away.

“A lot of this equipment ends up overseas in container boxes going to third world countries now,” Rolph says.

The thefts have now prompted the Downers to install GPS tracking devices on their equipment.

“You live, you learn,” Maggie Downer says.

The Downers estimate they’ve had theft losses of more than $100,000 in recent weeks.

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