Tracking Unit Busts Ladder Stand Thief

Nick Carter | August 1, 2008

Over the past couple of years, Steve Seals has had a terrible time with thefts at his Cherokee County hunt club. In such a rural setting, local authorities weren’t much help, so Steve decided he would do something about it himself.

In an 18-month period starting during the summer of 2005, theft ran rampant on his club property, and he reported the incidents to the local authorities each time. He said thieves stole thousands of dollars worth of “anything that wasn’t nailed down.” The thieves took multiple stands, two 4-wheelers, a camper, copper tubing, clothes, silverware, lanterns and anything else they could get their hands on.

“It got to the point where I got embarrassed to call the police. There really wasn’t much they could do except come up and take a report,” he said. “What could I do? I got to the point where I just had to do something.”

Steve went online and bought a Sage Tracker GPS tracking unit for about $400. He concealed the unit, which is about the width of a pack of cigarettes and twice as long, into the padding of the seat of the cheapest two-man ladder stand he could find. He put the stand out on the property before the last rifle season.

The unit he purchased begins tracking when it moves, and the customer can track it online using a paid service provided by Sage Tracker. What was truly amazing was the sensitivity of the unit. Steve said he could tell each time someone got in the stand to hunt. When thieves took the stand, he got good information, too.

“I could see the route they took to get home, and I even saw where they pulled up in front of the house, stopped and then backed up,” Steve said.

The next morning, Steve showed up on the front porch of the thief’s house with law-enforcement officers from Bartow and Cherokee counties.

David Dotson of Acworth was taken into custody and was later found guilty of theft by taking in Cherokee County Superior Court June 15. As a first-time offender, he was fined $1,300. He was sentenced to 12 months probation and 80 hours of community service.

Steve’s stand and GPS unit were returned to him, but none of the other stolen items were found.

“Since this happened, our troubles up there have gone way down. At least now the thieves in the area know we’re doing something about it,” Steve said. “Word spread about what happened, and we even had two stands returned. Someone left them on the side of the road in the area they were stolen from.”

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