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Florida men arrested in multi-state organized crime scheme targeting heavy machinery

Deputies say they have been able to recover numerous pieces of heavy equipment but there are still many others not yet located.
Credit: PIXABAY

JACKSONVILLE, Fla — Four arrests have been made in an alleged scheme to steal and re-sell of heavy machine equipment across North Florida and South Georgia.

According to the Suwannee County Sheriff’s Office, the individuals involved stole mini excavators, skid steers, utility trailers and zero-turn lawnmowers, among other items. They then reportedly sold the equipment through a construction company under false pretenses.

Those arrested include Robert Sanders, 44, Matthew Robert Yopp, 27, and Tony Darrell Richards, 40.

Joshua James Redd, 35, currently has active warrants for his arrest in relation to the crimes but deputies say his current location is unknown.    

SCSO says it has been actively investigating these incidents alongside the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, the Live Oak Police Department and the FBI.

Deputies say the operation was discovered during an unrelated investigation and that law enforcement was able to identify members of this organization that stretched all the way from Charleston to Savannah, as well as in Suwannee and Columbia Counties.

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Deputies say Sanders is reportedly a high-ranking member of the organization and solicited co-defendants to steal specific heavy equipment he could sell. 

Investigators say Sanders conspired with Richards to buy the stolen equipment. Richards then reportedly used his construction business to sell the stolen equipment to unsuspecting buyers, claiming that he purchased the equipment from insurance companies.

Deputies say they have been able to locate and recover numerous pieces of heavy equipment, however, there are still many others that have not been located.  

This investigation is ongoing, and law enforcement says other co-defendants may be identified.  

If you have any information regarding these thefts, contact the Suwannee County Sheriff’s Office at 386-362-2222

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