On February 1, 2012, workers arrived at a jobsite outside Phoenix, AZ, and discovered that a semi truck and flatbed trailer loaded with two excavators had been stolen. Both excavators had been equipped with a LoJack Stolen Vehicle Recovery System. When the workers contacted police to report the crime, the stolen equipment information was entered into the NCIC police computer. This routine police action automatically activated the transponder concealed in the equipment.
The next day, the LoJack Police Tracking Computer installed in a California Highway Patrol plane near Blythe, CA, began picking up the silent homing signal from the stolen excavators. The aircraft tracked the signal for about 20 miles into Arizona. RATTLER, the Arizona Auto Theft Task Force, was advised and, upon arriving in the area, followed the signals to a remote mining location Southeast of Quartzsite.
At the mine, detectives observed the excavators still loaded on the semi and trailer. Detectives executed a search warrant and, assisted by several investigators from both California and Arizona, recovered the following stolen equipment with a combined value of more than $500,000:
- 2006 Kobelco excavator
- 2011 Melrow excavator
- 2003 Freightliner
- 2001 Wallace lowboy trailer
- 2003 Freightliner water truck
- 1999 Sterling water truck
- 2000 Case loader
- 2003 and 1984 Flemming trailers
- 1999 Kenworth dump truck
- Bobcat skid steer
- Light tower and towable generator
With the exception of the generator, which was stolen in California, all of the equipment was stolen in Arizona. One suspect at the scene was arrested and several more suspects are being sought.