Airboats, drones help stop thieves in flood-stricken Nemaha County

AUBURN – The first of two theft suspects who took advantage of the 2019 flooding damage in Nemaha County has been sentenced to prison.

Michael Miller, 39, of Urich, Mo., was arrested after Nemaha County sheriff’s deputies used drones and airboats in the search of the missing farm equipment on the Peru bottoms in April of 2020.

Court records say an agricultural sprayer owned by Wilbur Ellis was found in six feet of flood water. A tractor and ATV owned by Ed Welte were found on dry ground surrounded by flood water. Two tractors were reported missing from a shed.

Sheriff’s deputies monitored the location with drones and noticed a boat on the Missouri River coming to the location where Miller and co-defendant Joshua Brown, 39, of Urich were arrested.

A drone not only helped identify the missing farm equipment, but was used to escort the men across flood waters to waiting deputies.

Miller was sentenced to two years in prison with a year of post-release supervision.

Brown is scheduled for sentencing on June 9.