Audrain County Sheriff’s Task Force Cracks Trailer Theft Ring


Audrain County Sheriff Matt Oller stated that between early and mid-January 2024, “one of our investigators assigned to the East Central Drug Task Force obtained information regarding the whereabouts of a stolen utility trailer. The data was gathered during an unrelated narcotics investigation. Suspects were recognized during the interaction.

The TFO met with the sheriff’s office’s investigations branch, who began looking into the material. According to Oller, on Jan. 26, 2024, information acquired led members to an address along Pike Road 442 in Middletown, where they discovered a 2023 Maxwell enclosed freight trailer worth $15,000 that had been reported stolen from Maxwell Trailers in Boone County. The trailer was recovered and returned to the Boone County Sheriff’s Office.

On January 31, 2024, further investigation led them to an address on Missouri Route BB in Audrain County, where they discovered a $10,000 Lamar Dump trailer. The trailer was stolen from a home in Laddonia, Missouri.

More information obtained during the retrieval led investigators to an address on Missouri Route M in rural Pike County, Missouri. They also retrieved a $10,000 Featherlite Aluminum vehicle transporter. The trailer was reported stolen in February from Chariton County, Missouri.

On January 31, 2024, Audrain Sheriff’s Office patrol staff and Missouri State Highway Patrol Zone members were given named suspect information as well as a “be on the lookout” alert. Later that day, Oller reported that a Sheriff’s Office patrol supervisor discovered one of the named suspects traveling near Farber in Audrain County.

The patrol supervisor arranged for Oller and K9 Andi to be present during a vehicle stop. The police supervisor halted the vehicle for an observed traffic infringement, and Oller deployed K9 Andi for a free air sniff. K9 Andi detected the presence of narcotics in the vehicle, and the vehicle was searched. The search resulted in methamphetamine. Dawson G. Miller, 25, of Vandalia, was arrested on drug charges.

Miller was later questioned about his role in the thefts of the two recovered trailers, which revealed additional information about other stolen trailers.

On February 1, 2024, law enforcement officers went to a location on Pike Road 48 near Curryville and recovered a 2022 Homesteader freight trailer that had been stolen from within the City of Mexico in Audrain County.

On February 1, 2024, officers of the Missouri State Highway Patrol discovered a second named suspect as a result of the previous “be on the lookout.” The trooper stopped the vehicle after noticing a traffic violation and generated reasonable suspicion that the driver was involved in illegal narcotics activity.

The trooper sought K9 aid, and Oller and K9 Andi were nearby. K9 Andi was sent for a free-air sniff around the vehicle, and she detected the presence of illegal substances. A search of the vehicle uncovered methamphetamine and a handgun. The driver, Douglas P. Grote, 47, of Curryville, was arrested for the crimes. A later conversation with Grote yielded more useful data.

Later, on February 1, 2024, Audrain County Undersheriff James Shrader noticed the third of the named suspects driving a vehicle in Laddonia. Shrader recognized the driver’s revoked license and pulled over for the offense. The driver was apprehended, and his vehicle was searched with agreement, yielding methamphetamine.

Justin L. Schaedel, 41, of Laddonia, was taken to Audrain County Jail. A further interview with Schaedel resulted in more useful information.

The final phases of the investigation led detectives to a location on US 54 near Curryville, where they arranged for the rescue of the final two trailers about which they knew. On February 29, 2024, investigators discovered a 2013 Maxwell cargo trailer valued at $8,000 and a 2023 Load Trail dump trailer worth at $9,000, both from Montgomery City, Mo.

All investigative findings were provided to the authorities where the crimes occurred so that criminal charges may be filed in those counties for the known thefts.

Oller stated, “I can’t praise my staff enough for their hard work and dedication to collaborating with other authorities to return stolen goods to their rightful owners. This lengthy and detailed analysis demonstrates that property crimes are frequently linked to illegal substances and illicit drug activity.

Undersheriff Shrader, despite being a command staff member, was personally involved in this investigation from beginning to end and worked diligently to assist our staff in keeping up with their other investigations. My office remains committed to working with community partners and other law enforcement agencies to hold offenders accountable, thanks to strong leadership.”

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