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Fargo police bust 'substantial' theft ring

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FARGO - Police have busted a "substantial" theft ring here, arresting two people and recovering hundreds of reportedly stolen items, including tools, jewelry and electronics, Lt. Joel Vettel said.

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Two search warrants executed over the past two days yielded hundreds of pieces of property worth tens of thousands of dollars that police believe are related to more than a dozen burglaries in the Fargo-Moorhead area, Vettel said.

"And we're still working through a number of cases trying to match up property with victims," he said. "We feel ... this thing has been going on for months."

The searches led to two arrests Wednesday: Jeremy Daniel Tibiatowski, 33, and Jason Scott Leines, 35, were taken into custody at their respective homes in the 5800 block of 14th Street South and 800 block of Oak Street, Vettel said.

Vettel said good police work and some fortunate leads allowed investigators to link a number of burglaries and thefts from homes and construction sites.

"It's been a rapidly changing investigation over the last week as new information came in," he said.

Fargo police are now working with other law enforcement agencies to determine if the recovered items match reported thefts in their jurisdictions.

"We feel strongly that they have been perpetrating crimes outside of the F-M area, out into more of the rural areas of North Dakota, Minnesota," Vettel said.

One of the difficulties in such cases is trying to match stolen items with their rightful owners, Vettel said. He promoted the Fargo Police Department's "My Property" registration program, which allows people to create an online account and enter information about their property, including photos and serial numbers, to help police identify and recover stolen and lost items.

A link to My Property can be found on the department's website at www.ci.fargo.nd.us/CityInfo/Departments/Police/

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