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Investigation Recovers Stolen Radioactive Device
Oakdale police


An eBay ad and the sharp eye of a tenacious victim led Oakdale Police to recover a $10,000 piece of construction equipment that was taken from a work truck last year.

On Oct. 17 the owner of a Sacramento construction company reported the theft of an electronic thin layer density gauge, known as a Troxler 4640-B, stolen from one of its work trucks during the early morning that day at Motel 6 on East F Street.

At the time of the theft, the company was offering a $5,000 reward for its return.

On March 23 an employee of the company noticed the item was listed for sale on eBay. The listing had multiple pictures of the item including the manufacturer’s identification plate which showed the make, model, and serial number of the device which matched the reported stolen one from October.

The investigation led to the seller located in Lodi and police obtained a search warrant for his residence.

On April 1, Oakdale Police made contact at the residence and learned the seller, who police declined to name, was not home. Family members at the residence contacted the seller over the telephone and put him in contact with investigators

Police stated the subject cooperated and consented to a search of an off-site warehouse where the item was being stored.

Oakdale police recovered the item, which houses two mildly radioactive pellets of cesium and americium, and returned it to the owners the next day.

The subject told police he was selling the gauge for an individual he knows only as “Craig.”

Investigators stated they don’t believe the subject contacted April 1 was involved with the theft or knew the item was stolen because of posting the item with its identification plate and serial number, but plan to interview the subject further on the identity of “Craig.”

“Due to the potential environmental hazard this gauge could cause if improperly disposed of, our priority was recovering it and returning it to its owner,” said Oakdale Police Sergeant Joe Johnson. “Other concern, as far-fetched as it may be, was that because it contained radioactive and nuclear materials were the possibility of it being attractive to international or domestic terrorists.”

Johnson added that the vigilance of the construction company and “good police work with a little luck” led to the recovery of the device and it back safe being with its owners.

Anyone with information about this case should contact Sergeant Joe Johnson at (209) 847-2231.