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Theft ring stretches across the region

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HARTINGTON — Area law enforcement officials are investigating a string of recent thefts.

Cedar County Sheriff Larry Koranda said they are looking at several leads, but no arrests have been made.

People from St. Helena to Sholes have reported that items have been stolen from their garages, vehicles and worksites.

Everything from guns to tools, electronics and power equipment have been taken by the thieves.

The theft ring appears to be mostly operating in rural Nebraska, but it is not limited to Cedar County.

Sheriff Koranda said he has seen theft reports from northeast Nebraska communities as far west as Ainsworth and as far east as Jackson.

“They are going through vehicles, construction sites, sheds, garages and work sites,” Koranda said. “It looks like they are just going into unlocked garages and sheds. We haven’t seen any forced entry, where someone is kicking in a door. Maybe they are walking past three or four garages, waiting for one that is not locked.”

Several different law enforcement agencies are investigating the incidents, which began in late March or early April and are still continuing this week.

Koranda said his department is sharing all the leads and tips they generate with law enforcement officials from South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa in an effort to catch the thieves.

Hartington Mayor Mark Becker met with Sheriff Koranda last week to talk about the crime spree.

“They are not sitting still. They are working some leads. They want to see this stop,” Becker said.

The main thing, Becker said, is for people to keep an eye out for each other.

“If somebody sees something wonky, they need to report it,” he said. “If you see something that looks out of the ordinary, report it to the Sheriff.”

In the mean time, Koranda said, people should lock the doors on their vehicles, garages and sheds and take other extra security measures.

Koranda also suggests that people take pictures of the items in their sheds and garages in case something is stolen.

“It seems like there are a lot of outdoor tools and fishing and hunting equipment being taken. Take pictures of your stuff and get serial numbers if you can. Unless someone is able to identify this stuff it’s pretty hard to find the owner of a tool to get it back to someone if it’s recovered.”

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