The theft of four pickup-truck tailgates the Columbus City Attorney's Office believe might have been stolen by the same man could emerge as a bigger trend.

The theft of four pickup-truck tailgates the Columbus City Attorney's Office believe might have been stolen by the same man could emerge as a bigger trend.

Michael Anthony Luquest Harrington is at large after allegedly trying to steal a tailgate from a truck in Clintonville last year, Assistant City Prosecutor Bill Hedrick said.

After Harrington was arrested in connection with the incident last year, police found three more tailgates, including two from Ford F-150s, in his van. He has been charged with one count of petit theft and two counts of receiving stolen property.

Hedrick pointed to a 2014 insurance industry report that indicated a black market has grown for tailgates.

The cost to replace or repair them could be upwards of $3,000 for newer model trucks equipped with expensive backup cameras and other electronic devices in their tailgates, he said.

"It's been an issue for a few years," Hedrick said. "In other states, it's far more pervasive; for example, Texas and California."

Hedrick said it's difficult to track from the City Attorney's Office because any theft of more than $1,000 is pursued by the Franklin County Prosecutor.

Harrington, whose last known address was on the East Side, has a criminal record that dates back to at least 1975 and includes multiple charges, Hedrick said.

But the tailgate-theft issue still seems to be pretty rare locally.

Dan Kelso, president of the Ohio Insurance Institute, a trade association representing property and casualty insurers, said the issue hasn't appeared on his radar screen yet.

"I haven't heard my members complain about that being an extraordinary problem," Kelso said.

"Obviously, copper theft is a huge problem," he said. "Catalytic converters being stolen from cars is a big problem."