Stolen DME Found On eBay

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If weather, vacation or your winter slumber has kept you from visiting your plane recently, it might be a good idea to get reacquainted. And if, like a growing number of aircraft owners on the Eastern Seaboard, you discover big holes in the panel where your avionics used to be, check eBay. Connecticut pilot Tim Vecchiarelli and his King KN-64 DME are expected to be reunited soon after Vecchiarelli's wife Allyson discovered the stolen device posted for sale on eBay by Avionics Masters, a Florida-based avionics dealer. "I just thought, what the heck. I mean what else is someone going to do with it?" she told AVweb. Within minutes she matched the serial number of a DME on the auction site to the one that used to reside in the couple's Piper Warrior. The DME was among five items gently removed from the panel sometime last month in what now looks like a series of avionics thefts along the East Coast. Tim Vecchiarelli said he has no doubt Avionics Masters had no idea the DME was stolen because it took him at least three weeks to report the theft -- and therein may lie part of the thief's modus operandi. Between the terrible weather that has plagued the Northeast and a sore back, Vecchiarelli hasn't been flying for more than a month. He's been turning the prop once a week to keep oil circulated but for at least three weeks he didn't take the canopy cover off the airplane. In early February, one of his tie-down neighbors noticed some of the cover straps were loose. Vecchiarelli said he put it down to the high winds the area received about that time but now he thinks that might have been when the theft occurred. It wasn't until late in February that he took a look inside.