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3 men charged with stealing tractor then covering it with online ad

CONWAY — Conway police assisted Moultonborough officers in apprehending three men on Friday for staging a crime probably bizarre enough to make the Jay Leno show.   

Adam S. Quinney, 20, of Weare, Daniel R. Chesley, 23, of Conway, and Allen W. Downs, 27, of Weare, are accused of creating fake online classified ads for a tractor and a truck bed being stored on Route 25 in Moultonborough and then going and stealing the items.

They were arrested Friday and appeared in court on Monday to face felony charges of theft by unauthorized taking, attempt to commit theft by unauthorized taking and conspiracy to commit theft by unauthorized taking.

Stolen items wind up online all the time, Moultonborough Police Sgt. Peter W. Beede Jr. said, but not usually before they get stolen. "Basically they were just giving themselves an alibi," he said. "It's nothing we've ever dealt with before. It's definitely a very unique crime."

Moultonborogh officers arrested all three men on Friday afternoon at 12:45 p.m. The three were caught stealing a truck bed they had posted as "free for the taking" on the classified ad website Craigslist, according to Sgt. Beede. Police had the property under surveillance following a theft of a tractor that had also appeared as "free for the taking" on Craigslist the day before.

"It's basically been an ongoing progression through the week," Sgt. Beede said. Items began disappearing from the property earlier in the week, and then the tractor went missing on Thursday. Police found the online ad for the tractor, which they say was created by Quinney, Chesley and Downs. That prompted officers to watch the property the next day, when another ad for the truck bed appeared online.

"All three subjects were arrested without incident," Sgt. Beede said.

All three were sent to the Carroll County jail before court appearances Monday. In addition to the felony complaints all three are also face violation-level criminal trespassing complaints. Quinney is also charged with transportation of alcoholic beverages by a minor.

"The incident remains under investigation," a Moultonborough Police statement said, and "more charges are likely."

Some of those additional charges may come out of Conway. Conway Police spokesman Lt. Chris Perley said evidence connected to the arrest is being used to bring charges against one of the three men in connection with stealing scrap metal from the historic quarry in Redstone. Scrap metal theft is an "ongoing problem," Lt. Perley said.

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