Ongoing battery thefts prompting Indy trucking companies to take extra measures

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Several trucking companies on the southwest side of Indianapolis are taking extra steps to protect their property after several recent thefts of batteries from their lots.

Sometime between Monday night and Tuesday morning, somebody managed to take 28 batteries out of semi-trucks on the lot of Celadon Trucking Body Shop, in the 2300 block of West Raymond Street. According to employees, the thieves also stole a semi-truck from the lot and used it to ram their way out the front gate. The stolen truck was found about 12 hours later at a Marathon gas station near Kentucky and Tibbs Avenues. But the truck batteries were gone. An IMPD report indicates the batteries may have been loaded onto another vehicle for transport away from the abandoned truck.

On Monday, an IMPD report says a manager at Central Transport, in the 1600 block of Oliver Avenue, arrived to find 10 semi-trucks had their batteries removed. Each truck had three batteries taken, for a total of 30 batteries.

For Celadon Trucking, this was the fourth time in recent months that battery thieves have stolen from the lot. The most recent was last week, according to an employee.

Ongoing battery thefts in the area are prompting some local trucking companies to take extra measures to protect their property. Robert Woodward, who owns Taylor’s Truck and Trailer across the street from Celadon, says thefts on this lot forced him to start paying extra money for an electric fence around the property. He says he pays a company called Electric Guard Dog $500 per month to lease the 10,000 volt fence.

“Didn’t want to spend that kind of money to get the fence, but we had to,” Woodward said. “We’re a small business and it was really taking a major toll.”

Chris London, General Manager at Total Truck Parts, says thieves can often get between $20 and $25 for each stolen battery.

“There is a core value associated with the battery in addition to the purchase price,” London said. “So the lead in the battery is worth something to a smelter.”

“The cables are copper, so there is a scrap value to that,” he added.

But the cost to replace each battery is much higher for the trucking company, according to Woodward.

“$100 for the battery, about $25 for the core,” Woodward said. “So that’s $125. And then if they cut the wires to the battery, that’s another $100.”

“It’s unfortunate for the fleets out there that have an investment and have to replace those batteries,” London said. “There is a huge cost associated with that. Not only the price of the battery, but the labor to put it back in too.”

Making off with 30 semi-truck batteries would not be an easy job. Each one weighs about 65 pounds.

“It would take quite a task, or quite a group of people to get them,” London said.

Celadon and Central Transport don’t have electric fences around their lots. But employees say they plan to start parking large trucks just inside their entrance gates to hopefully block would-be thieves. Celadon employees spent most of Wednesday replacing the gate that was crushed by the stolen truck earlier in the week.

IMPD detectives are investigating each of the thefts. It’s not known if the same person or group is responsible in each case. Anyone with information is asked to call IMPD or Crime Stoppers at (317) 262-TIPS.

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