Deputies: FOX 12 viewer spots stolen excavator; theft suspect ar - KPTV - FOX 12

Deputies: FOX 12 viewer spots stolen excavator; theft suspect arrested

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Stolen excavator (Photo: Cowlitz Co. Sheriff's Office) Stolen excavator (Photo: Cowlitz Co. Sheriff's Office)
RIDGEFIELD, WA (KPTV) -

A stolen excavator has been returned, thanks in part to an attentive FOX 12 viewer.

Brad Thompson with Thompson Brothers Excavating had his $100,000 excavator stolen from a job site in Ridgefield sometime overnight Wednesday.

The Cowlitz County Sheriff's Office said after seeing coverage on FOX 12 and KPTV.com, a man called deputies to report that he spotted the stolen machine.

Deputies responded to the Lexington area and noticed the ignition of the excavator was punched and the company logo had been scraped off with a wire brush.

A check of the serial number confirmed the excavator was the 2016 Link-Belt model stolen from Thompson Brothers Excavating.

Deputies said the machine was brought to the location where it was found by Dale Nease, 56, of Castle Rock.

Detectives said Nease had several different stories about how he acquired the excavator. According to investigators, he sold it to his ex-father-in-law in Milwaukie on a contract.

Deputies said it does not appear the buyer knew the machine was stolen.

Nease was arrested on charges of first-degree theft and trafficking stolen property. He was booked into the Cowlitz County Jail with no bail.

Anyone with information on this case is encouraged to call Deputy Ness Aguilar at 360-577-3092.

Thompson told FOX 12 on Sunday that he is very thankful for the return of the machine. 

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