Rancher reports metal theft after following suspects

By Paula Horton, Herald staff writer June 11, 2011 

A Tri-City man was arrested early Friday after an alert Mattawa-area rancher spotted two men trying to steal metal from his property, officials said.

The rancher, living at 21954 County Road I-SW, called Grant County sheriff's deputies at 4 a.m. after he saw a pickup truck and trailer enter his property, said Grant County Chief Deputy Ryan Rectenwald.

The truck drove to an area where equipment is stored, loaded up about $6,000 worth of metal and other material and drove away, he said.

The rancher followed the truck to a remote area just across the Columbia River in Benton County and called 911. Deputies from Grant and Benton counties responded.

Michael D. Wallace, 54, from the Tri-Cities, and Scott W. Ferguson, 37, of Asotin, were arrested and booked into the Grant County jail on suspicion of first-degree theft.

"Many thieves rely on the cover of darkness to help conceal their crimes," said Grant County Sheriff Tom Jones. "Keeping alert, like this rancher did, is a key step to stopping property thefts. In the end, the farmer's diligence made a big difference and helped us catch two suspected bad guys."

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