Coby Andrew Trader, 40, told police in 2014 that he advertised tailgates for sale for all makes and models of pickup trucks and would steal tailgates based on potential buyers' specifications, according to court documents.
"Trader said that he would be contacted by a potential buyer for a tailgate, and when they asked him if he had a particular color and style 'in stock,' he would get their callback information and go out and steal a tailgate that matched what the buyer wanted, sometimes even getting the right color," police wrote in the affidavit.
He told police he typically sold the tailgates for between $200 and $225.
On one occasion, Trader allegedly stole a tailgate from someone who later contacted him about buying a tailgate to replace it. The alleged victim told police the new tailgate did not fit, but Trader refused to give him a refund. Police identified the rightful owner and returned it, court records indicate.
Trader was brought in for questioning in 2014 after the owner of Roberts Auto Body in Carroll Township recognized his stolen tailgate on Craigslist. The owner arranged to meet with Trader to buy the tailgate under police surveillance. Police brought him in for questioning. Investigators said the key the owner provided fit the stolen tailgate.
At that time, Trader allegedly confessed to 12 tailgate thefts. He allegedly told police he stole them from trucks at locations including the West Penn Power Station and Monongahela Valley Hospital in Carroll Township, Washington County; N&N Auto Sales in Fallowfield Township, Washington County; and C Harper Ford in Rostraver Township, Westmoreland County.
Carroll Township police chief Paul Brand gathered information from neighboring communities and found 46 tailgates were reported stolen between July and November of 2014. He said 34 of those thefts were reported within five miles of Trader's residence.
A man matching Trader's description was allegedly observed on surveillance footage removing tailgates at additional locations, including CHEMCO Systems in Forward Township, Allegheny County.
No additional thefts were reported in the area after November 2014 when he was brought in for questioning, police said.
Additional attempts to question Trader were unsuccessful until July 8, following an investigation between Carroll Township Police and the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
Trader was charged with 46 counts each of theft and receiving stolen property. He was arraigned before Magisterial District Judge Mark Wilson on a $10,000 unsecured bond.
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