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May 23, 2006

Dougherty County --  Albany and Dougherty County Police report that lawn equipment thefts are up dramatically.From homeowners to businesses, lawn mowers, blowers, and chainsaws are being taken by the dozens,and the thieves are very bold.    

One of the latest in a string of lawnmower thefts happened a little after noon today in the 300 block of Pinson Road. A neighbor called Police when she saw two teenagers taking a lawnmower from a house.

Witness Mary Mitchell said "We seen two boys pushing a lawnmower. I didn't know if they stole it or what, so I left and went down the road and saw the two boys come out of the bush on their bicycles, so I called the police."

Police showed how big a problem this is. Within minutes Dougherty County Officers and Sheriff's Deputies were searching woods for the suspects, while Albany Police picked up a suspect for the neighbor to check.

Lawn equipment thefts are up this spring, with the thieves boldly grabbing items in broad daylight. APD Lt. Kenn Singleton said, "These individuals may notice there is nobody around, and just grab whatever they want and leave."

Jesse Way of Westover Lawn and Garden knows the thefts are bad, because the victims come to him to buy new equipment.  "That's almost a daily occurrence. Someone comes in and says 'I got hit last night' or 'I got hit this morning,'" Way said.

But some thieves are bold. Way's business has been broken into five times in the last eight days. "First time, they broke in, they took six chainsaws. They broke the front door in."

Now Way's shop has metal screens across the doors and windows. He knows thieves take lawn equipment, because it's easy to sell."Taking them to Tallahassee, taking them to Dothan, somewhere else."

Police say you need to lock up your lawnmowers, and keep watch in your neighborhood for strangers casing the area. Also make sure you keep a record of the serial number, and mark your name and phone number on it permanently. That way if it is stolen, you can identify it if it's recovered.

Police say a number of lawn companies have reported their equipment being stolen off their trailers, even while they are working.

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