Lake Patrol Honorees

Three Department of Public Safety employees and a state representative were honored by the International Association of Marine Investigators during their conference in Nashville, Tennessee. The three DPS employees were honored with Investigator of the Year awards for their persistence and ultimate success in obtaining the largest statewide recovery of stolen marine items in 1998 at a marina in northeast Oklahoma. The state representative was honored for his role in passing important anti-theft marine legislation in the Oklahoma legislature.

Trooper Bob Knox, Patrolman Randy Bland and Marine Technician Scott Croasdale received the award in a ceremony held at the International Association of Marine Investigators conference in Nashville, March 20 - 25.

"These officers were honored for their investigative efforts in a specific investigation that started with a tip received by Patrolman Steve Crain of Missouri who was involved with a drug task force investigation at the time," said Bob Sanders, boating law administrator and commander of the Lake Patrol section who attended the ceremony.

Knox, Bland and Croasdale assembled a team of officers to assist with an inspection of the marina, organized as part of the investigation. Shortly after they began the inspection, it was discovered that a new boat, motor and trailer were confirmed stolen by the National Crime Information Center.

A warrant was obtained to conduct an on-site search of the marina which concluded six days later. The search revealed an inventory of an estimated $2 million with approximately $250,000 in property confirmed as stolen or unidentifiable.

"These officers utilized investigative skills they were taught in previous courses conducted by IAMI," said Sanders. "They worked very hard on this project, surfacing as lead investigators as they went beyond the normal realm of investigative work."

When records of the property were not located on the NCIC, the officers sought out original owners for information to assist them tracking the stolen boats, motors or marine parts.

The investigation and follow-through took approximately two months. Many items were confiscated and identified and returned to insurance companies that had already paid claims for them.

Knox, Bland and Croasdale are assigned to Grove, Bartlesville and Kingston respectively.

The owner of the marina was charged with 49 counts of possessing motor parts with serial numbers removed, six counts of knowingly concealing stolen property, and one count of operating a marine chop shop.

"Representative Bob Weaver from Shawnee received the Legislator of the Year award during the awards ceremony. Weaver is the first legislator to be honored by the organization during its nine year history. IAMI President, Major Jimmy Laird, Mississippi Fish and Wildlife, said Weaver received the award "for his hard work and leadership in passing necessary marine items as well as in the recovery and return of stolen items."

Highway Patrol Chief Gary Adams said, "Representative Bob Weaver was instrumental in getting tough new marine theft laws passed in Oklahoma. We sincerely appreciate this recognition of Representative Weaver for his efforts in helping protect the public. Representative Weaver has consistently been a friend to the Highway Patrol and his efforts have not gone unnoticed."

Weaver said "Oklahoma is being recognized nationally for taking the lead in combating theft of boats and motors. I plan to continue to work with the Highway Patrol and propose legislation that protects the property and safety of our citizens."