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4 accused of stealing millions in machinery, equipment in Camrose area

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Four people have been charged in connection with a theft case totalling about $3.1 million in the Camrose area, police announced Tuesday.


The charges, laid on May 15, signal the end of Operation Elephant, a three-year investigation into stolen equipment like tractors, loaders, trailers, and excavators, as well as vehicles like RVs, boats, and quads.


The group charged is accused of using the stolen property in their own businesses, including rentals:


  • Gaye Turnbull, 70;

  • Jeffrey Roblin, 37;

  • Trevor Turnbull, 44; and

  • Kenneth Wipp, 53.


They face a variety of charges, including possession of property obtained by crime, tampering with a vehicle identification number, and laundering proceeds of crime. One person was charged with unauthorized possession of a firearm.


Operation Elephant was launched in 2021 after the auto crimes unit of ALERT, the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams, received tips from the public.


ALERT first told the public of the investigation in December the following year, when it carried out 17 search warrants in Camrose and surrounding area.


In total, more than 100 pieces of stolen property were found by police, nearly 90 of which were bigger items like machinery and vehicles.


Most of it has been returned to its rightful owners, ALERT said.


“This investigation shows that not all organized crime involves guns and drugs. High value property crimes not only impact the victims of the theft, but all of Albertans through increased insurance rates,” Camrose police chief Dean LaGrange said in a statement.


“Stolen farm equipment, machinery, and recreational vehicles can be incredible losses which shakes the perception of safety in rural communities. Although many of the recovered stolen items were returned, there’s still significant impact and costs incurred,” added ALERT’s Insp. Angela Kemp.


The accused were released from custody and are scheduled to appear in court in Camrose on Wednesday. 

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