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Mitchell mechanic thieved $105,000 from three victims, six more suffered losses, charges say

Police accuse Banks of thieving $105,000 from three victims, with the losses of six other victims yet to be determined

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The Mitchell Police Division is a part of the Mitchell Department of Public Safety. (Hunter Dunteman / Republic)
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A Mitchell mechanic is facing felony charges after his customers say he resold their parts, never completed work and stopped answering their calls.

Derek Banks, 35, of Mitchell, was charged with grand theft of over $100,000 and $500,000 after his customers at Simply RB — his business that has only been operating since February — reported their financial and property losses to police.

On Nov. 7, a Mitchell police officer fielded a complaint from a customer who claimed Banks was supposed to have part of an engine rebuild completed, but was failing to provide proof that any work had been done. As the victim's frustration mounted, they began talking to Banks' other customers, who had also mentioned they had similar issues.

Another victim claims to have purchased a new engine control unit (ECU) from Banks, but was informed by Banks that the ECU had been stolen from his shop. The victim was able to discover that the ECU — confirmed by its serial number — was currently installed on a vehicle in New Jersey. That vehicle had been picked up in July by a third victim who claimed Banks never completed the work he had agreed to.

The original victim told police he had repeatedly tried contacting with Banks, but Banks would not communicate or cooperate with the victim, who wanted to retrieve his property. The victim estimated he had already paid nearly $13,000 in parts and labor for the project.

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On Nov. 8, police spoke with a second victim, who was working with Banks to convert an engine into a high-horsepower engine until contact had expired. The victim had already paid Banks $6,200 for work but was unable to retrieve the engine — valued at approximately $6,800 — resulting in a current loss of nearly $13,000.

On Nov. 9, a man in Michigan told police that Banks had picked up his vehicle earlier in the year to build and install a 1000 horsepower engine. The victim provided a contract, which listed a work completion date at the end of June. The victim claimed Banks had cut communication and had provided neither proof of completion nor the vehicle, itself. He estimated his loss at $80,000.

An arrest affidavit says authorities are awaiting victim statements from at least six other victims, each with losses ranging from $8,000 to $63,000.

Banks had been currently facing eviction from the building in which he conducted his work. The building's owner, who is unnamed in the report, told police that on Nov. 8, he heard Banks tell a woman he was considering fleeing to Canada. Banks allegedly lived in his shop.

One of the victims told police he believed Banks was a flight risk, pointing out that Banks had allegedly posted his plans to leave America and "sail around the world." Police say he's lived in multiple states.

Police arrested Banks on Nov. 9 and charged him with grand theft of an estimated $105,000 from three victims. A final evaluation of total losses between all the victims has not yet been made.

Grand theft of over $100,000 is a Class 3 felony, punishable by 15 years in prison, a $30,000 fine or both.

Banks is due in a Davison County courtroom on Thursday for a preliminary hearing.

Related Topics: CRIME AND COURTSTHEFT
A South Dakota native, Hunter joined Forum Communications Company as a reporter for the Mitchell (S.D.) Republic in June 2021. After over a year in Mitchell, he moved to Milwaukee, where he now works as a digital reporter for Forum News Service, focusing on regional news that impacts the Dakotas, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
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