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."