MONTVILLE TOWNSHIP, Ohio — Trustworthy. Courteous. Kind. Reverent-- some of key principles Boy Scouts live by while practicing Scout law.
Sneaky. Disrespectful. Mean. Cheeky-- some of the words that describe the crook who stole a trailer holding a Cub Scout Pinewood Derby track from Sullivan Pack 556 nearly three years ago.
Neither the troop nor law enforcement expected the unmarked 14-foot-long trailer, which was snatched from outside of a Montville Township business in February of 2017, to surface again.
The theft sparked outrage because the scouts had raised thousands of dollars to buy both the trailer and the track.
"We never thought we would find the trailer. We had given up hope," said Karrie Turczynskyj, the scout master of the troop.
Officers tried several methods to recover the trailer, but as time passed, the case seemed to slip off the radar.
"We entered it into LEADS. We put it on the news. We put it into the National Computer Crime Information Center. We put it on Facebook," said Lt. Matt Neil.
But this week, in a bizarre and ironic twist, Montville Township police received a phone call from the Licking County Sheriff's Department that the same trailer had been recovered in Kirkersville.
It turned out the owner of a construction company, David Woodring, bought the trailer last October after responding to an ad on Facebook Messenger, but he was completely unaware that it was stolen. He also doesn't know if the seller realized that he was selling a hot item.
"We paid him $3,000, wrote the bill of sale and my dad hooked the trailer up and brought it back to my house," Woodring said.
The big break in the case came a few days ago when Woodring contacted deputies to report that someone broke into the trailer and stole tools and a generator.
After further investigation, deputies discovered the vehicle identification number matched the trailer stolen from the Boy Scouts.
"They informed me in that moment that the trailer came back stolen," Woodring said.
The business owner was stunned and became another victim of the crime. He's out $3,000 and spent another $5,000 on a replacement trailer.
"I know what it's like to have things stolen from me, so it was stolen, at least they get their property back," he said.
Scout leaders, who assumed the trailer was long gone, were in the midst of raising money to buy a new trailer when they received the surprising news. The plan is to pick up the stolen trailer this weekend and the money generated through fundraisers will be used to outfit it.
"We're incredibly happy. We have some winter camp outs coming up so it will come in handy," Turczynskyj said.
The track has not been found, but Roto-Rooter donated money to get the scouts a new track shortly after the crime happened.
Neil said Montville Township is working with Licking County authorities to determine the next step. Investigators plan to review social media accounts in an effort to figure out how many times it changed hands and who may have stolen it.
He says one key element will be working with BMV investigators to figure out how the trailer, which was entered as stolen by police in 2017, was able to be re-licensed.
Investigators are also reviewing other cases of stolen trailers in Medina and Ashland counties to see if there are any connections.
"We definitely are interested in pursuing this and seeing if it's part of a larger crime spree with trailers," Neil said.