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Investigators join forces to catch thieves stealing farm equipment

By Amanda Brannon
Published On: Dec 20 2012 06:56:04 PM CST
GREENVILLE -

Authorities say a group of thieves stole more than $1,000,000 dollars in lawn and farm equipment.

"These guys were very selective and picky about what they stole and they generally liked brand new stuff or close to new stuff. If your stuff looked bad they generally left it alone," Pitt County Sheriff's Office Detective Chad Suggs said.

Officials said over the last two years, a crime analyst team has combed through paperwork looking for theft trends between sixteen different jurisdictions in the state.

Through their investigation, they were able to link William Johnson, Clinton Gray Dawson, Michael Anthony Hill and Leon Davis together. The foursome may have known each other since childhood.

"Some of the suspects had legitimate businesses. One of the men was a car dealer so he had a lot of contacts in the community and he helped move a lot of the stolen equipment," Tim McLawhorn, an inspector with the NCDMV License and Theft Bureau said.

Authorities believe the foursome targeted both homes and businesses.

Angelo Daniels had his lawn equipment stolen twice in the last year from his home in Farmville. Both times he said he had his equipment locked up.

"I guess if a crook really wants it, they are somehow going to get it," Daniels said.

Daniels is now out at least $45,000 dollars.

The John Deere Dealership in Winterville was also targeted. The manager said the thieves first went across the street and knocked out most of the surveillance cameras at the ABC store. Then, they backed their pick-up truck with an attached 20-foot enclosed trailer behind and fence and stole five zero-turn lawnmowers. Each lawnmower is approximately $12,000 dollars.

"The perpetrators spent many days riding around and just looking for the easiest access they could find to the equipment they were looking for," Suggs said.

Detectives say more than $1,000,000 dollars worth of farm and lawn equipment was stolen. So far, they have recovered half of that, but the rest is still missing.

Authorities suggest keeping track of the serial numbers for every piece of equipment you own. They also say to keep your items locked up and don't have them be visible from the road.

Officials say there may be more arrests as this investigation continues to be ongoing.