Thieves broke into a small construction company and stole a massive piece of equipment: a crane weighing more than 23 tons, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said Thursday.
Investigators said the crime happened sometime between July 19 and 20, likely between 7:00 p.m. and 9:30 a.m.
Criminals cut through a large metal gate at Superior Crane & Rigging on West Linebaugh Avenue and stole both a Terex crane and the industrial flatbed truck on which it's mounted.
"It's pretty disheartening," said Randy Stanley, who owns the company. "I'm kind of in shock that someone would have the guts to come and steal something like that."
Stanley said it'll cost about $150,000 to replace the machine; he still has two, but without the third he's losing roughly $1,000 a day.
"I'm struggling everyday to make up for the loss of that machine. I'm in the process of trying to find a rental unit to take up for loss in revenue that we're experiencing," he said.
The theft is puzzling to detectives who are trying to determine what someone would do with this kind of heavy machinery. One theory is the criminals could chop up the parts and try to sell them overseas.
"People are desperate. These criminals are desperate for anything of value," said Cristal Bermudez Nunez, spokesperson for the sheriff's office. "Something like a semi and a crane attached that has markings on the side as to who it really belongs to, that's pretty gutsy."
The crane has Superior Crane & Rigging's blue logo on it. Stanley said the truck carrying the crane is also missing its front bumper which an employee removed shortly before it was stolen.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff's Office at (813) 247-8200 or call Crime Stoppers at (800) 873-TIPS.
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