Clue at scene of Beloit crime leads to charges for felony theft

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Frank Schultz
November 10, 2015

BELOIT—It was a clue that lovers of crime dramas might find a little too obvious: A pen emblazoned with the name of a company.

But the clue was real, and it led to charges in the theft of 16 semitrailer loads of pallets, valued at $44,000.

Avid Pallet in Beloit reported the thefts to police Aug. 25.

The company receives trailers full of pallets from J.B. Hunt Transport, and the trailers are left in the yard in Beloit overnight before the pallets are sorted and the trailers cleaned the next day, Avid officials told police, according to a criminal complaint.

But one day, a trailer was not cleaned, so employees looked inside and found the pen with the name of Pallets 4 Less of Chicago, according to the complaint.

An Avid official contacted someone at J.B. Hunt, who told him J.B. Hunt does not do business with Pallets 4 Less.

A resulting Avid investigation revealed 16 trailers unaccounted for, the complaint states.

J.B. Hunt investigated further and found that three of its trailers were indeed at Pallets 4 Less at the time of the pen incident. But GPS tracking of J.B. Hunt trucks found that none of them had visited Pallets 4 Less, according to the complaint.

An Avid official contacted Pallets 4 Less, where he was told that someone named Steve had delivered a couple trailers of pallets over the weekend and was paid cash, according to the complaint.

Pallets 4 Less told another Avid official that someone named Steve had answered a Craigslist ad from Pallets 4 Less and started delivering pallets to the company.

Avid officials also reported to police some suspicious text messages that seemed to point the finger at an Avid employee named Steven Magee, the complaint states.

A Beloit detective on Sept. 11 visited Pallets 4 Less in Chicago, where he was told “Steve” had arranged to meet a Pallets 4 Less driver at the Flying J truck stop in South Beloit, Illinois.

“Steve” would accompany the driver to Avid Pallets, where the driver would pick up a trailer full of pallets, officials said, and the driver would pay “Steve” for each load, according to the complaint.

The driver produced receipts for 11 loads, totaling $18,000, with the customer name “Steve Pallets,” the complaint states.

Shown a photo, the driver identified Steven L. Magee, 43, of 1644 Fayette Ave., Beloit, according to the complaint.

Magee is charged in Rock County Court with felony theft.

A warrant has been issued for Magee's arrest.

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