The first individual to be formally charged in connection with a rash of vehicle thefts in Clay, Adams and Webster counties was Cody Luben, 20, of Superior, a graduate of Deshler high school. Luben was charged with a misdemeanor in Clay County Court on July 27. He entered a plea of innocent. The charge involves the theft of contents from stolen vehicles and is a class one misdemeanor with a maximun penalty of one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.He was arrested in connection with the thefts earlier in July. A surety bond of $5,000 was filed for Luben on July 22. A pretrial conference is scheduled for August 17th. A jury trial is scheduled for 9 a.m. on September 28th.
Clay County Sherrif Jeff Franklin has asked for warrants to arrest other suspects in the matter.
The Nucholls Co. Sherrif's department has reportedly aided in the investigation along with the sherrif's departments in the three affected counties.
Three pickups were stolen in Clay Co., one from Glenvil and two from Trumbull. One was found at the Prarie Lake Recreation center near Juniata and had been used to ram the entranced gates, one was found in a river in Webster County and one found near Edgar. "
Four vehicles were taken in Adams County from June 30th to July 9th, a 1996 Ford pickup with trailer attached from South Marion Road, in Hastings. the trailer was later recovered on a roadway. A 2006 Dodge Ram was taken from Kenesaw and later recovere in Kearney County missing a GPS and a trailer hitch. A 2002 Ford pickup was taken from Pauline and found high centered in a field, a toro workman vehicle was taken from a storage shed on Southern Hills drive and later recovered in a field.
A combine, 2 pickups and a semi were taken in Webster county, totaled and later recovered. the Semi had been driven into a ditch, the combine had been driven into a barb wire fence and a 2002 Cheve pickup, owned by Zeb Weber of Blue Hill, was used by the thieves to have a demo with the 1996 pickup stolen in Adams County in a field south and west of Blue Hill, they were totaled and then left in the field.
In each of these incidents the keys had been left in the vehicles.
"These were stolen right out of yards next to houses." Randy Henning, Chief Webster Co. Deputy said. "It's important to remove the keys but it is hard to convience people in small towns." .