DATE: Tuesday, January 13, 2015
SUBJECT: Investigation Uncovers Theft Ring
CONTACT: Sgt. Nathan Sugarman / Lt. Noah Robinson
AUTHORITY: Sheriff Dave Wedding

In a news conference today the Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Office, Evansville Police Department, Warrick County Sheriff’s Office and the Vanderburgh County Prosecutor’s Office announced details concerning an ongoing joint investigation. The investigation is focused on a theft ring responsible for over a million dollars in heavy equipment thefts from construction sites and businesses.

Over the last several years both Vanderburgh County and Warrick County have experienced an upsurge in the thefts of heavy equipment. The incidents spiked in 2014 with 9 reported thefts. The incidents included both the theft of new equipment from dealerships as well as the theft of equipment located at construction sites. Some of the victims included: Tri-County Equipment, Brandeis Machinery & Supply Company, Daylight Farm Supply, Whayne Supply Company, Sulaar Construction, Koberstein Rentals, Southeastern Equipment, Tri-State Fire Protection and Vermeer Midwest.

Detectives from the Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Office and the Evansville Police Department worked together in order to develop potential suspects. Suspects were developed through the process of evidence collection, interviews and examination of security video footage captured by local businesses. Detectives began surveillance of those suspected to be responsible and identified Mr. Andrew Ryan Elpers as the primary suspect.

On December 26, 2014 detectives observed Mr. Andrew Elpers at a Vanderburgh County business as he appeared to scout the location and examine a piece of heavy equipment. Mr. Elpers left the area when deputies responded to an unrelated alarm at a nearby business.

Detectives had previously learned that Mr. Andrew Elpers was travelling back and forth between Evansville and a location in Madison County North Carolina. On December 28, 2014 detectives traveled to the property in North Carolina and observed several pieces of heavy equipment scattered around the property. A search warrant was obtained for the property in North Carolina as well as the property of Mr. Andrew Elpers’ father, Mr. Thomas Wayne Elpers, who resides in northern Vanderburgh County. The search warrants yielded stolen equipment estimated to be worth approximately $1.5 million, the majority of which was recovered from Mr. Thomas Elper’s property.

Items recovered included but were not limited to: excavators, skid steers, farm tractors, utility terrain vehicles, trucks, SUV’s, box trailers, flat bed trailers, hydraulic equipment and attachments for various pieces of machinery.

Mr. Andrew Ryan Elpers was arrested in North Carolina on charges of Possession of Stolen Property and awaits extradition to Vanderburgh County on charges of Commercial Burglary and Theft. Mr. Thomas Wayne Elpers was arrested in Vanderburgh County for Commercial Burglary and Theft and is currently free on bond.

The agencies involved in the recovery of the stolen equipment include: the Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Office, the Evansville Police Department, the Warrick County Sheriff’s Office, the Vanderburgh County Prosecutors Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Madison County Sheriff’s Office in North Carolina.

The involved agencies wish to thank all the area businesses who provided invaluable surveillance video of the suspects. Without the cooperation of the crime victims and concerned members of the public a successful conclusion to this criminal case would not be possible.

This investigation is ongoing and additional arrests of other suspects are anticipated.


Andrew Ryan Elpers (pictured above), 36, of Evansville. Burglary as a Level 5 Felony, Theft as a Level 5 Felony, Theft as a Level 6 Felony. (Photo courtesy of Madison County NC Sheriff’s Office)

Thomas Wayne Elpers (pictured above), 62, of Evansville. Burglary as a Class C Felony, Theft as a Class D Felony, Criminal Mischief to a Vehicle as a Class B Misdemeanor

Pictured above: Recovered heavy equipment.

Pictured above: Recovered heavy equipment.