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Probing a giant-size theft from bottling plant 550-gallon mixers are taken in Tonawanda

Three stainless steel mixing tanks and a conveyor belt were stolen from the parking lot of the Coca-Cola Bottling Co. plant in the Town of Tonawanda last week.

The question is: How?

Each mixing tank weighed 500 pounds and could hold 550 gallons of liquid, according to town police. That means a single tank is about as heavy as two full-size refrigerators. The conveyor belt was also made of stainless steel and estimated to be 8 feet long.

Whoever took these items would have needed at least a forklift and a large flatbed truck to pick up and load the goods, said Detective Lt. Joseph F. Carosi. The thief also would have needed adequate space to store the large items.

"You're not just throwing this in your average Dodge Ram," he said.

Plant managers had three old mixing tanks, a conveyor belt and other production parts left in a corner of the plant's parking lot at 150 Milens Road, near the Interstate 290, Carosi said. The parts were being stored there until the plant could sell the items for reuse or scrap, he said.

The last time anyone was sure they had seen the items was April 4. They were definitely gone by Saturday, police said.

The plant does not have security camera surveillance over the parking lot, and the items were not secured, Carosi said. Even so, these goods took planning to steal and should be difficult to hide, given their size. "Somebody's got to know where they are," Carosi said.

The tanks are valued at $3,000 each, the conveyor belt at $1,500. Additional production parts also were stolen, valued at $1,000. All together, the thief made off with nearly $12,000 in equipment, according to the report.

The investigation was continuing, Carosi said, adding that he and Detective Joseph S. Fennell are worried about who might be reusing these tanks and for what purpose.

"The sheer volume of what these things can hold could make them dangerous in the wrong hands," Carosi said.

Anyone with information related to the theft is asked to contact town police at 879-6613.


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