Investigators link dozens of lawn equipment thefts - FOX 13 News

Investigators link dozens of lawn equipment thefts

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

Vicky Blough tends to her business like a delicate landscape.

"It took me 14 years to accumulate that equipment," she said.

Last August, in a blink of an eye, it was gone. Her truck, trailer and all she's worked for disappeared from her Sarasota driveway.

"It was gone and my heart sunk, because that's the only way I have to make money," she said.

She called deputies right away, documenting every piece of equipment.

"Every time I'd say a value, I'd get sick to my stomach," she said.

It's a feeling shared by dozens of victims. Hillsborough deputies said they were targeted by four men, all who are career thieves. They would case their victims with a GPS.

"They would just drive around and find mom and pop trailers on the side of the road or in front of people's houses, put it in their GPS and then go back later and take it," a detective said.

Deputies got suspicious after finding stolen trucks and trailers from around the Bay area ditched along Hillsborough County roads.

"They would bring it here, store it here and then sell it on the street to whoever they could," said Major Clyde Eisenberg.

They linked the group to 56 thefts from Sarasota to Pasco County. More than a million dollars worth of lawn equipment was stolen, but authorities have only recovered $302,000 worth.

"You don't know what to do you're lost. That's your business, go," said Corinne Shaw.

It happened to Corinne Shaw and her husband, too. But the Tarpon Springs couple was lucky. Deputies found all of their stuff within days, but their truck was totaled.

All Vicky got back was her truck and trailer along with a few odd items.

"Some of it didn't make sense, but I knew they weren't going to start a new business," she said.

They nearly destroyed hers, but not her spirit. She is determined to get back on top.

HCSO said they are still searching for a fifth person involved. They said once the cases go to trial, they will allow other victims to walk through and look through recovered items to see if they can be identified.

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