I may have passed on the story, but since it happened in our backyard, I thought…why not? At least half a dozen people have stolen equipment from Home Depot in Central Florida, and it wasn't the smartest move.
The basic idea is as follows: rent equipment at Home Depot, and instead of returning it, sell it on social media.
It's easy to find holes in the plan, but the group apparently didn't think that far. Utility loaders, stump grinders, trenchers, mini excavators and trailers were stolen in at least 50 separate incidents in 16 counties, according to local news station Fox 13. The total value of the equipment is close to $600,000.
Six suspects were arrested on charges of theft and planning to defraud.
Stealing heavy equipment is first and foremost a daring crime. Reselling it is riskier. Advertise on social media? You can almost be sure that the person you are trying to avoid will notice. All of this included in a Home Depot rental package? Like the guys who got caught putting lead weights in walleye during competitions, if you play stupid games, you win stupid prizes.
If you're interested, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd and Attorney General Ashley Moody had something to say during a press conference on April 6, 2023, where they provided more about their Call it "Operation Heavy Lift" information.
NOTE: This article was updated on April 7, 2023 to include embedded video and for updated time reference.