Tractor thefts foiled by alert officer - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Tractor thefts foiled by alert officer

By  Stephanie Springer  - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –The John Deere store in Ocilla is no stranger to thieves.

"About four months ago we had two guys come in and steal $30,000 worth of tools off the truck," said Craig Daniels, store manager.

Most recently, Craig Daniels got a call from police about two men trying to steal mowers worth an estimated $10,000 dollars.

But an alert patrol officer stopped the men before they got away with the equipment.

"We received a call from the nightshift patrol that she had rode up on two men trying to steal john deer riding lawnmowers, but when she rode up on them they took of running," said Sgt. Doug Douglas with the Ocilla Police Department.

Several agencies got involved in a man hunt, even bringing in a helicopter and dogs to look for the suspects but they had no luck.

Meanwhile, agents in Ben Hill County were investigating a stolen truck taken from a local business the same night as the foiled mower thefts. Later investigators discovered an interesting connection.

"It appears the men who fled from there came through our business and stole a truck an Isuzu truck," said Jacob

Days later Moultrie resident Craig Vail reported his truck stolen which investigators say was the same truck used to load up the lawnmowers. But unfortunately his cover story led to his arrest.

"Yesterday Mr Vail broke down in an interview and admitted to it all," said Douglas.

Investigators believes this is just a small piece to a much larger lawn mower ring. Investigators say they believe there is a ring leader and Vail was told he would be paid money to bring these mowers back.

"This young man was picked because he was fresh out of prison and needed money," said Douglas.

Investigators are hopeful more arrests will follow in the near future.

Investigators say there is still another suspect on the loose who goes by the name of Al.

He's a light-skinned black man, who's about 6'2, 225 pounds.

If you have any information on his whereabouts call the Ocilla police department at 229-468-7495.

Craig Vail faces charges in several counties and investigators say more charges could be filed.

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