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Salem man accused of operating chop shop

September 22, 2012
By LARRY SHIELDS - Staff Writer , Morning Journal News

SALEM - A Salem man is facing felony charges after stolen construction equipment and commercial tractor trailers, valued at nearly $2 million, were reportedly recovered from properties he owns.

Robert L. Martin, 46, owner of Yukon Construction in Salem, was charged with receiving stolen property following an investigation by the Ohio State Highway Patrol; the Cortland, Goshen Township and Salem police departments; and investigators from the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

Officers served two search warrants on his properties Thursday and Friday following an initial investigation by Cortland police that reportedly resulted in the recovery of stolen construction equipment valued at nearly $500,000.

An estimated $1.5 million in additional stolen construction equipment and commercial tractor trailers was also recovered, police said.

Salem police became involved when a Case front end loader valued at $50,000 was recovered after Martin allegedly sold it to a business in town. The vehicle was reported stolen in Akron on July 13 and recovered on Tuesday.

Salem Det. Dave Talbert said the city expects to present that case to the Columbiana County grand jury next month.

"I believe before the investigation is complete we'll find more equipment," Talbert said.

Cortland police got involved in what appeared to be a civil suit after a complainant called about abandoned equipment on a job site.

Police checked the vehicle numbers and determined they were stolen from different locations in Northeast Ohio. Cortland police met with Salem police to locate Martin, Talbert explained.

Talbert said Martin had a clean record.

The agencies served the warrants on Martin's property on state Route 14 near state Route 165 in Goshen Township on Thursday. Another warrant was obtained and served on Martin's residence on Salem-Valley Road in Goshen Township on Friday.

Evidence reportedly showed that the property along state Route 14 was operating as a commercial chop-shop where stolen semi-trailers and their loads were being cut up for scrap.

On Friday, Martin was being held in Trumbull County jail under $300,000 bond.

The investigation is ongoing and the highway patrol is seeking information from anyone who has done business with Martin or Yukon Construction.

To report information, call the patrol's Vehicle Theft Unit at 330-898-2945 ext. 30.



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