Indiana Conservation Officers are asking for the public’s assistance in slowing a string of environmental thefts in southern Indiana. Charles Cole Jr., 44, of New Salisbury, is wanted on an active felony arrest warrant, stemming from an investigation earlier this month.
On October 10, Indiana Conservation Officers received a report of trespass in northern Harrison County, after a landowner’s trail camera captured a late-night photo of a man suspected of stealing ginseng plants from the property. The landowner also discovered that a separate trail camera had been stolen from a tree.
Upon viewing the trail camera photo, Indiana Conservation Officers immediately identified the man as Charles Cole Jr., from recent dealings with him involving a separate trespass/ginseng theft case. After speaking with Cole, they discovered stolen ginseng and a stolen memory card from another trail camera at his residence.
During the course of their investigation, Indiana Conservation Officers recovered stolen ginseng in addition to 9 stolen trail cameras and memory cards. As a result, they sought an arrest warrant through the Harrison County Prosecutor’s Office on Friday, Oct. 19.
Meanwhile, on Sunday, Oct. 21, Indiana Conservation Officers fielded additional complaints after Cole was again caught on a property owner’s trail camera trespassing and digging ginseng in Washington County.
To date, Cole has sold at least 40 pounds of ginseng, much of which is believed to have been stolen from unsuspecting landowners. Current market value for dry ginseng in Harrison County is approximately $500-$650 per pound.
Ginseng is regulated to ensure a healthy population for the future. For more information on Indiana’s ginseng program, follow this link: https://www.in.gov/dnr/naturepreserve/8235.htm.
If anyone has information concerning this case, they are encouraged to contact Indiana Conservation Officers Central Dispatch at 812-837-9536, or their local law enforcement agency.
All charges are merely accusations and defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.