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Tue, Jul 31, 2007

Man Suspected Of Airplane Parts Theft

Told By Court To Stay In Wisconsin

Personnel at Basler Turbo Conversions in Oshkosh, WI thought it a bit unusual to see barns once filled to the brim with aircraft parts, suddenly begin to empty out... and a suspect in the apparent theft has been told to stay in the state for the time being.

The Oshkosh Northwestern reports Brian A. Francart, 27, faces six counts related to the reported thefts between July 1 and July 24 at Basler. Employees contacted the Winnebago Sheriff's department when they noticed it was suddenly easier to move around in several warehouses.

Among the missing items was a pair of landing skids, valued at $85,000.

Some of the missing parts were found in a truck and trailer parked at a nearby house. A resident of the property told police the truck belonged to Francart.

When questioned by authorities, Francart said he got the parts from a field on the outskirts of the city, adding "some guy in a bar" told him he could find the parts there.

Francart -- who told police he often hauls scrap metal to a salvage yard in Fond du Lac -- said the man suggested they rent a truck to pick up more 'scrap metal' from barns belonging to Basler, according to a police complaint.

County Circuit Court Commissioner Dave Keck ordered Francart held on a $500 bond, on charges including three counts of being party to the burglary of a dwelling, two counts of being party to misdemeanor theft and one count of theft of property valued at more than $10,000.

Calling Francart a flight risk, Deputy District Attorney Tracy Paider asked the court to impose a $10,000 cash bail on Francart -- but Keck cited the man's ties to Oshkosh as reason for the lower figure. Keck did tell Francart to remain in Wisconsin for the time being, though.

If convicted of all charges, Francart faces over 48 years in jail, and more than $100,000 in fines.

Basler is best known for its STC to convert DC-3s into turboprop-powered cargo and personnel haulers.



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