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South Heart dealer a victim in trailer theft case

Police are investigating a rash of stolen trailers taken from Missouri that allegedly were up for sale by a local dealer.

Five trailers have been impounded from the Dickinson area, including a 30-foot car hauler with a kitchenette that was being advertised by I-Deal Trailers out of South Heart. Investigators in Missouri noticed the trailer being advertised on I-Deal's website and, with the help of the Dickinson Police Department, matched it to a business in Springfield, Mo.

"All the paper work that I-Deal produced checked out," said DPD Officer Matt Hanson, who visited I-Deal in late December after being contacted by authorities in Missouri. "From what I understand after investigating is that I-Deal purchased a number of stolen trailers unknowingly from Missouri. It looks like they were duped."

Hanson said he believes all the stolen trailers in the Dickinson area have been recovered. A number of trailers were purchased by I-Deal from Missouri businessman Don Bills, according to court documents. Authorities in Missouri believe Bills may have altered the VIN numbers of trailers that were stolen in an effort to conceal their origin.

Bills is a six-time felon with two felonies involving charges of "burglary and stealing," according to court documents. Hanson said trailers that were stolen will be returned to their original owners.

"Our customers come first -- we're giving those who purchased stolen trailers their money back," said I-Deal owner Gary Praus. "We're just as surprised as they are. We're victims in this too."

Praus said he's not sure what the business' insurance will end up covering and added that losses for I-Deal could be in the neighborhood of up to $50,000. In addition to as many as 10 trailers, police also seized computers, a heater and a camera, among other items, from Bills' business in Springfield.

Hanson said the victims in this case will likely need to go through civil proceedings to recoup any financial losses.

Bryan Horwath
A Wisconsin native, Horwath has been covering news in the Oil Patch of North Dakota since 2012. Horwath currently serves as the senior agriculture and political reporter for The Dickinson Press and, despite the team's tendency to always let him down, remains a diehard Minnesota Vikings fan.
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