Sometime late Sunday night, or early Monday morning, thieves managed to make off with more than $18,000 in lawn equipment from the county parks and recreation department.
Nikki Millender, who oversees the department, said the culprits cut a chain and broke into both the gated area behind the Carrabelle courthouse annex and Kendrick Park, sometime after 3 p.m. Sunday and before 7 a.m. Monday.
The thieves got away with a 16-foot utility trailer, and a wealth of equipment that often fills the trailer for use in maintaining ballfields, and other outdoor areas overseen by the county.
Stolen were five Stihl grass trimmers, two Stihl backpack blowers, four Sarlo push mowers, two McLane edgers, three Stihl blowers, one Stihl pole pruner, a Hustler Super Zero Turn mower, a Snapper Zero Turn mower, and miscellaneous items such as a water hose, gas cans, ball field rakes, residential rakes, shovels and slings.
“That’s a bunch of stuff they took,” said Millender. “They took one of our trailers, and they left some stuff behind.”
One thing the thieves thought to do was to remove and toss aside the license tag and inmate crew identification tag from the back of the trailer.
Millender said she thought the thieves probably stole the trailer, and filled it with the equipment from both sites, by managing to cut through land between the two sites.
The report by Investigators Brett Johnson and Duane Cook said they were able to locate the license tag, and two partial shoe prints from the site.
Millender said the theft means that she has just one of three inmate crews to work with during this busy time of the year for parks and recreation.
“I had to take one of my guys who worked an inmate crew and move him over temporarily to the beach cleanup crew,” she said. “We don’t have equipment to work with.”
Parks and rec was able to prepare the field Monday for the evening’s District 4 Dixie Youth Baseball championships. But until the equipment can be replaced, Millender said, the department will be shorthanded when it comes to its duties.
“I’m down two inmate crews,” she said. “We’re in our heaviest peak point in our season. This has put a big hurt on me.”
She said the county filed an insurance claim Monday, and that policy has a $5,000 deductible. In addition, Millender estimated the replacement cost for all the equipment will be about $23,500, and she was unsure whether the insurance company would cover the roughly $5,000 difference.
Millender has asked local residents to be on the lookout for anyone trying to sell these items, either in person or online. But she believes the thieves have probably moved the equipment off to a place where it will be easier for it to go undetected.
Anyone with information on the thefts is asked to call the sheriff’s office at 670-8500.