INDIANAPOLIS - An anonymous tip led police to recover batteries that were stripped out of 13 church buses on the east side of Indianapolis, and police said they have strong leads on who stole them.
The buses parked behind the Calvary Temple Church at 2901 N. Post Road were found to be without their batteries on Monday, but police said the church received a mysterious anonymous tip about the thief.
The caller identified himself as "Ray" and he provided the name of the person now suspected in the crime. He also mentioned the scrap yard on Bluff Road, where the thief had taken the batteries in exchange for cash.
Batteries have been stolen from truck lots and other industrial yards throughout Indianapolis in growing numbers over the past few months as thieves cash in on the high prices being paid for the heavy metals inside truck batteries.
Police responded to the church yesterday and followed the trail provided by the anonymous tipster. Officers said they found 16 of the batteries that were taken from the buses.
Those batteries, with a total value of just over $400, have been returned to the church.
The owner of the scrap yard handed over transaction receipts that included information about the suspected thief.
To combat the growing trend of metal thefts, scrap yards are required to collect photographs of everything they buy. They are also required to collect information from the driver's license or vehicle license tag for anyone selling scrap, and in many cases fingerprints must be collected.
Scrap yards then maintain "transaction details" or "transaction receipts" for every piece of metal that they purchase, so that the identifying information can be handed over to police if the metal turns out to be stolen.
In this case, police now have the name of the man who brought in 18 batteries that are now being linked to the church buses.
The scrap yard reported that it purchased those batteries on Sunday.
No arrest has been made, but charges are pending against the seller.
Police reports contain staggering numbers of metal thefts in Indianapolis each week, including thieves targeting fleets of semi-trucks or rental truck lots for their batteries.
Metal thieves have also been cashing in recently by swiping air conditioners from abandoned houses, tearing grounding wires out of emergency communication radio towers and even stealing gutters and downspouts from an occupied home in Indy's Meridian-Kessler neighborhood.
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