Dickey County Family in Battle over skid steer loader with North Dakota BCI
Ellendale, ND (WDAY TV) - The story of a small-town Dickey County family stuck in the middle of a bizarre battle involving a skid-steer-loader, a Pennsylvania crook, and agents with the North Dakota BCI.
Mike and Kristi Gilbert of Ellendale thought they bought the skid-steer loader in good faith from a Fargo equipment dealer. They paid $21,000 for it.
But more than a year after buying it, the Gilberts say authorities walked into their business in Ellendale, demanding the skid steer.
Mike Gilbert has the reputation in Ellendale as an honest, hardworking Body Shop owner. And one reason so many are shocked at the turn of events involving a skid steer loader they bought in a March of 2013.
Kristi Gilbert\Ellendale, ND “We went to pick it up, they used a database to run the serial number and it came back clear.”
Mike and his wife Kristi bought the skid steer from a Fargo Farm equipment dealer who had listed it on Craigslist.
Kristi: “Everything was good to go.”
No red flags, bill of sale indicated no problems.
And so the couple brought the skid steer to Ellendale,
Kristi: “We started using it, took really good care of it, kept it inside. Treated it like it was ours. put about 5 grand into it."
Kristi: “He completely repainted the machine, new decals, hydraulic lines, new tires.”
Used it, then heard this.
Kristi: “We had it a year and a Dickey Co deputy showed up and said we need to check your serial number it is stolen.”
In Pennsylvania, a thief admitted to stealing skid steers, including, he says, the one Kristi and Mike bought from the Fargo dealer, who also had no idea.
Kristi: The Dickey Co. States attorney said the same thing, we are good faith purchasers, and it was legally purchased in ND and it should stay with us.
But the story took a drastic turn here in Ellendale just days ago, when ND BCI agents showed up here at the body shop.
Mike Gilbert/Ellendale, ND: “They stormed in and treated us like we were thieves, like we were the criminals.”
Kristi: “Three BCI agents came in and said they needed to talk to us, they had a search and seize warrant signed by the judge here in Dickey CO. and said they were taking our skid steer, it is stolen.”
All this as customers, vendors and their children looked on.
Kristi: “My three year old is scared the police, who we taught you can trust, is afraid they are going to take his toys.”
Mike added a bucket loader to the skid steer, he was not about to let the BCI take that.
Kristi: “They (the BCI) ran over there and really upset and acting like he had no business taking the bucket, which was an attachment.”
We tried to get a picture of the confiscated skid steer. The Dickey County Sheriff's office refused, saying the BCI had it, we are told it is here at the county shop.
The Fargo equipment dealer returned the purchase price amount to the couple. They're still out the $5,000 put into it, and there's no clue what will happen to the skid steer, now.
The original owner, in Pennsylvania, never reported it stolen.