07 Oct 2015
A 50-year-old Texas man is behind bars after he apparently rented a forklift from an industrial supply company then turned around and sold it to another company for $3,300.
The incident occurred in Angelina County, in east Texas. According to police, Robert J. Duncan, of Lufkin, Texas, rented a Toyota forklift from Hugg & Hall Equipment, telling the company on that he was doing a job behind the Sun-N-PinesMotel.
Pickup and Delivery
Duncan arranged to have the forklift delivered to the motel on the morning of June 12 by Due’s Wrecker Services.
Meanwhile, Duncan was hired to do mechanical work for Lee Ridout, owner of LLR Enterprises, in nearby Nacogdoches. When Ridout mentioned to Duncan that he was considering buying a forklift, Duncan reportedly told him that he knew where he could find some forklifts, according to an arrest affidavit obtained by Angelina County Sheriff’s Pct. 1 Constable Tom Selman.
On the same day that Due’s Wrecker Services delivered the forklift to the motel, Duncan brought Ridout to the motel and showed him the lift truck, agreeing to sell it to him for $3,300. Ridout wrote Duncan a company check for $2,500, agreeing to pay the balance once the forklift was moved to his company’s location in Nacogdoches.
‘Let the Buyer Beware’
In an amazingly lucky coincidence, Ridout then hired Due’s Wrecker Service to transport the forklift from the motel to his business. That’s when the Due’s driver told him that he had just delivered the same forklift from Hugg & Hall Equipment to the motel on rental orders from the Bill Fence Company, of Cabot, Arkansas.
According to court documents, between the time the forklift was delivered and the time he showed it to Ridout, Duncan had spent several hours removing all of the decals from the vehicle that identified it as a rental belonging to Hugg & Hall.
Follow the Money
Realizing he had been conned, Ridout contacted his bank — the First Bank and Trust of East Texas — and learned that his $2,500 check had already been cashed. Ridout contacted the sheriff’s department and together they went to the bank to get a copy of the check. Investigators learned that Duncan had used an Indiana’s driver’s license to cash the check, which eventually led to his arrest.
With this information, police eventually were able to track Duncan down and he was arrested in August. He was being held without bail in the Angelina County Jail on a state-jail felony charge of theft between $1,500 and $20,000.
Avoid Being Bamboozled
Unlike cars and trucks, not all forklifts come with a vehicle title. Instead, they have a bill of sale that includes the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).
Before buying a forklift from an individual or business, you should always make sure that the lift truck comes with a bill of sale that is registered to prove ownership of the vehicle.
You should never pay money to buy a forklift unless the seller can produce the legal documentation. If there’s any ever doubt about whether or not a forklift transaction is legal, don’t take the law into your own hands. Instead, contact local law enforcement and let them sort it out.