TIFTON -- An employee of a Tifton landscaping business has been charged

in Colquitt and two other counties with multiple felony theft for

allegedly stealing tractors, a mower and a plow.

Jerry Smith, 28, Rt. 1, Box 65 B, Enigma, was first charged by the Tifton

Police Department Monday with felony theft by taking. A Tift County

Sheriff's deputy stopped the vehicle Smith was riding in and, after

running a check on the trailer the vehicle was pulling, discovered the

trailer had been reported stolen.

On Oct. 7, a Tifton man had reported the 1999 Anderson Gooseneck trailer,

valued at $2,000, stolen from Northside Baptist Church-owned land off

Fulwood Road. Smith reportedly told an investigator that he saw the

trailer for sale in a field and that he had paid cash for it.

Colquitt County's Sheriff's Capt. Hal Suber said Thursday that Smith has

been charged in Moultrie with three felony counts of theft by taking.

Kenny Bennett had reported his $20,000 tractor stolen, and Joe Baker

reported that his $17,000 tractor and a plow valued at $3,100 had been

stolen. All of the equipment has been recovered and Smith is charged

with those thefts.

"The plow was found at his (Smith's) house," Suber said. Suber believes

Smith had used the stolen equipment on his job at Landscaping

Associates.

Suber said the investigation continues, but he didn't anticipate any

additional charges Thursday.

Berrien County officials said they will charge Smith with felony theft by

taking and possibly theft by receiving stolen property. Investigator

Tony Bennefield said that officers there recovered the plow reported

stolen from Colquitt County. Suber said his officers also recovered a

stolen Bush Hog mower valued at $1,680 and charged Smith with that

felony theft.

Bennefield said the man who ordered the mower delivered to his home never

received it. When the man called the company, he discovered that the

mower had been delivered to Smith's home two doors down. Suber said

Smith told him he knew nothing about the mower.

Bennefield said the mower wasn't damaged and will be returned to its

owner.

"These people are out of a lot of money when it comes to stolen equipment

like this," Suber said. "Our main objective is to get people's

property back to them in good working condition."

The two tractors were stored at the Tift County Sheriff's Department

Thursday and were to be returned to the owners. Smith may face

additional charges from Tift County.



To contact reporter Angie Thompson, call 382-4321, ext. 208.

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