Two northern Iowa teens face charges of trying to sell stolen goods on the Internet. Forest City Police Chief Dan Davis says it began at “Krisilis,” a residential facility that provides support services for the handicapped. The place provides care and services for people with handicaps and he says the victim in this case is a young person with cerebral palsy who’s unable to speak and uses this device to communicate.
The chief describes the device, which attaches to a wheelchair, as a little bigger than an “Etch-a-Sketch.” When the user wants to say something, make a request or comment, she can do it just by touching a spot on the screen. After the device was stolen, police got a tip that someone might be trying to sell it on the Internet auction site eBay.
The chief assigned a lieutenant and another officer to work on it, so they logged onto eBay and put in a bid. After monitoring it all day they won the auction, as the top bidder. Then they had to try and catch the seller without tipping off the suspect. Investigators from the Polk County Sheriff’s office helped by making a phone call, so the thief would think their buyer was in Des Moines, and they arranged a meeting with a buyer who was actually an officer from Clear Lake.
The person arrested with the device was an employee at Krisilis who lives in Forest City. Chief Davis says there were other bidders for the device, so there was some doubt if the undercover officers would be successful in making the Internet “buy.”
He says they were lucky to recover it, and made a deal with the prosecutor that although the device is evidence, they could turn it over to the client so it could be used, at least until the court date.
The chief says the 16-year-old who allegedly stole the device and an 18-year-old arrested in the same case will be charged with burglary and first-degree theft in connection with that case and other items found at their home that allegedly were also being offered for sale.