BOZEMAN, Mont. - Gallatin County detectives are looking for the owners of thousands of stolen items after raiding multiple storage containers in what the lead detective says is the largest stolen goods bust he's had in his role.
The stolen items have been identified to have been taken as far back as 2012 and from as far away as Billings. The items were located in November after a tip came in to the Gallatin County Sheriffs Office.
It's a treasure trove of stolen things, including dozens of bikes, bins of PVC pipes, skis and snowboards, board games, TVs, even a Santa Clause statue; if you can imagine it, it's probably somewhere in one of the hundreds of photos posted online in a recovered property photo album.
Multiple suspects have been arrested for stealing and storing the items, and they are currently being investigated for felony theft.
But with 40,000 reports of theft just last year in Gallatin County, trying to connect each item to a report would take detectives years. The sheriffs office is trying to expedite the process through a digital photo album available to the public.
Getting everything back to its rightful owner may seem like an impossible task, but it's become Detective Colter Metcalf's job.
“The oldest piece of property that we’ve linked to an owner was stolen in 2012," says Metcalf. "We’ve linked property stolen within Gallatin County as well as far away as Yellowstone County... I don’t know where else the trail is going to lead us at this point.”
As of Wednesday afternoon, Metcalf says that about 200 items have been collected by their owners.
To look through the photo album, click here. If you are able to identify your own property, email email@example.com, detailing what it is that's yours. In order to make it easier for detectives to locate your item, take note of the color and number combination seen in the picture of your item. Most large items will have their own number.
If your item's picture does not have a color/number combination, describe the location of your picture within the photo album based on the closest color/number combination (for example: “My property is 2 photos after Orange 1.”)
The sheriffs office is working hard to properly link the rightful owners to their items. Anyone picking up an item will need to sign a letter claiming the item as theirs, and if anyone is found to have lied and abused this process, they will be charged with theft.