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“The second we got (in the van), we knew this just wasn’t a stolen vehicle.” — Sgt. Chase Davis

A tip from Springfield detectives about a stolen van with a Seymour suspect early last week led to the recovery a wide variety of stolen items from across the Ozarks, including hundreds of pieces of mail.

“In the end, I think we’re looking at federal charges on this case,” said Sgt. Chase Davis, detective for the Seymour Police Department. “If I went through and gave you a list of all the stolen items found in this van, it would look like the list that Santa Claus carries.”

Davis said that last Monday, Dec. 23, he was contacted by the Springfield Police Department, making him aware that a van had been stolen in Greene County. One of the top suspects in the theft was a woman who is a Seymour native.

“So, the next day, which was Tuesday (Dec. 24), Officer Ray Rodriguez and I decided to drive around and take a look, as we had a description of the van and its license-plate number,” he explained. “We each took a part of town to drive.”

The search didn’t last long.

Less than two minutes into Davis’ search, he noticed a gold van at a duplex on North Main Street, across from the Seymour Nazarene Church.

It matched the description of the stolen van.

Then he ran its license plate.

Again, a match.

“I knew we found it,” Davis said.

The man living in the duplex didn’t let officers enter the home; however, he did acknowledge that a family member left the van there.

The van was then towed by Yates Boys Towing of Seymour to its impound lot on the city’s east edge, where Davis and Rodriguez inventoried it.

“The second we got (in the van), we knew this just wasn’t a stolen vehicle,” Davis noted. “We started noticing lots of checks from all over the area. All of checks were written to people from all different names and from different towns.”

It didn’t end there.

Next, Seymour officers found mail.

Mail from the U.S. Postal Service.

Davis said the mail — some of it opened and some of it unopened — was much like the checks that were found.

“It was mail from all kinds of different people from all kinds of different towns,” he said. “In essence, a whole lot of mailboxes had been robbed.”

Then the officers noticed several items that appeared to be stolen from vehicles, things like registration papers, insurance cards, even some savings bonds were found.

“Items you would find in a vehicle’s glove box,” Davis said. “It was apparent these people had been robbing a lot of vehicles.”

He said the van was completely full. A majority of its contents appeared to be stolen merchandise.

“It looked like they had been living in it,” he added.

Davis said there is no mystery who took the van.

“We know both of them,” he said. “One is a native of Seymour. A female. She and her boyfriend, who helped in this crime spree, live in Springfield.”

Davis and Rodriguez collected all of the evidence from the van.

“Then we find out that there is a video of this van stealing mail in Springfield,” Davis continued. “And that just added a whole new element to this whole mail thing.

“You see, the mail we recovered was from a bunch of little towns. Seymour wasn’t one of them. But there wasn’t Springfield mail, either.”

After Davis left the van, he made a call to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

Postal agents now have joined the investigation.

“With all of the evidence we’ve got and the video from Springfield, we’re probably looking at federal charges being filed,” Davis said. “The postal inspector probably will take over this case.”

In the interim, he’s been contacting people who had stolen items recovered from the van, returning their merchandise when possible.

“We also found drug paraphernalia (in the van),” Davis concluded. “There was a bag of car or vehicle keys, plus a lot of keys for other doors and even a car-unlocking kit.

“These two were heavily involved in crime, no doubt.”

Are they in jail?

“Not yet,” Davis concluded.

“But they will be. It’s just a matter of time.”

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