St. Petersburg Police on the hunt for lawn maintenance equipment thieves

Thieves targeting lawn maintenance businesses

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Keith Burden built his lawn maintenance business, Bass Lawn Maintenance, from the ground up.

"We work hard for this. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to do lawn maintenance, but you do wok very hard," he told ABC Action News.

But thieves in West Saint Petersburg hit this local business owner.

"I looked, and I was like, 'something is missing,'" he said.

Burden realized a brand new blower, costing close to $500, was gone.

"After 20 years of doing lawn maintenance work, I've never had a piece of equipment taken off a trailer," he said.

The St. Petersburg Police Department said nearly 40 cases of stolen lawn equipment have been reported since September.

"While workers on properties are mowing lawns or doing landscaping, (thieves) are going up to landscape trailers, actually entering the trailers and stealing high-end gas powered equipment," said Detective Michael Egulf.

Detectives believe two men are responsible for the thefts.  Burden said the loss of his equipment means even more money out of his pockets.

"When the insurance does not cover it, or the deductibles, you have to buy the equipment, because you have to have it," he said.

While the thieves got away with one piece of Burden's equipment, Detective Michael Egulf said others have been wiped out.  All the cases combined total a huge loss for business owners.

"I'd estimate $20,000, but replacement value could be high as $100,000," said Detective Egulf.

Burden said he is now taking more precautions, adding more work to his already long days.

"I hate to feel like society these days is causing you to lock your trailer up like Fort Knox to make a living," he said.

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