"This makes me mad! Upset!"
Forestry contractor Russell Howard of Ellisville is describing how he feels he feels after having almost $200,000 worth of his work equipment stolen.
"It's not like you can just go to the car lot or the equipment lot and pick these machines up," says Howard.
Sometime between 11:30 Monday night and 2:30 Tuesday morning two heavy duty pieces of equipment were stolen from a work site, which Howard was clearing off for a new subdivision on King's Road.
The owner of the stolen equipment says he's convinced that more than one person committed the crime, mainly because the thieves left behind the outer tracks for the wheels. Weighing more than 300 pounds a piece, he says it took at least two people to do this.
"They took the tracks off the equipment because it wouldn't fit on a normal width trailer. Also, it had to be somebody who knew equipment. You can't just come in and drive one of these things," says Howard.
Law enforcement officials agree and say that the culprit or culprits had likely been scoping the equipment for sometime.
"First of all, you're looking at equipment that is often used back in the woods," says Chief Deputy Ward Calhoun with the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department. ?So, quite often people would drive-by and not even notice, so we feel like somebody in the area would know it was out there."
Calhoun says investigators are now also looking into a separate similar theft which occurred sometime Wednesday night on Highway 19 South outside Meridian. He says a piece of equipment known as a bobcat loader was stolen in that incident. At this time investigators say it's too early to say whether or not the two thefts are related.
Anyone with information on this case is asked to call Crimestoppers at (601) 917-8888.
"I'm offering a $10,000 reward for my equipment back in tack. I want my equipment back bottom line!"
One of the owners of the stolen equipment says he thinks the thieves may be using the equipment for hurricane equipment for hurricane cleanup efforts on the coast. The person or persons responsible are facing grand larceny charges which carry up to 10 years in prison.