MEDFORD (WAOW) – A GPS system on a 2014 Caterpillar skid steer worth $70,000 reported stolen in southwest Wisconsin helped investigators find it in a Taylor County barn and uncover a theft ring, according to a criminal complaint.
A 25-year-old Delavan man has been accused of receiving several pieces of heavy equipment, including the Caterpillar skid steer, that were found in and around the barn last month, the complaint said.
Christopher Steig was charged with five felony counts of being party to receiving stolen property and two misdemeanor counts of being party to receiving stolen property.
Other equipment stolen included a 16-foot hydraulic dump trailer, a Case 430 skid steer, a jackhammer, a 10-foot snow plow skid steer and an electric generator, the complaint said.
The equipment was stolen from various sites in Wisconsin last fall and this spring, the complaint said.
Steig is to make an initial appearance in Taylor County Circuit Court on July 1, online court records say. Steig appeared before a Taylor County judge on Monday after being arrested in Richland County. His bail was set at $5,000.
The investigation into the theft began May 23 when a construction contractor reported the Caterpillar skid steer had been stolen from a site in Boscobel, the complaint said. Using a GPS system on the machine, it was tracked to an address in Taylor County and found in a barn filed with other equipment.
The hydraulic dump trailer had been reported stolen in Richland County, the complaint said.
The owner of the barn where the stolen items were located told investigators that he bought most of them from Steig and believed Steig had obtained them on Craigslist or he got them from people he knew, the complaint said.
The barn owner said he had no idea how the new Caterpillar got into his barn or who put it there, the complaint said.
The man told investigators that if the skid steer was stolen from Boscobel, “that is an area in the state where Chris Steig associates and it was most likely Chris Steig who brought it to his house,” the complaint said.
The property owner, who itold investigators he was friend of Steig's and they often talked on the telephone or texted, denied any involvement in a theft ring of construction and farm sites with Steig, the complaint said.
There was no attorney listed for Steig in online court records.