They're clunky, heavy and good for cutting grass, but unfortunately, lawnmowers seem to have become the new hot commodity for those looking to make an illicit buck.
Two Newton county men were arrested for their involvement in a lawn mower theft ring that stole tens of thousands of dollars-worth of items and stretched across at least three counties, according to the Jasper County Sheriff's Office.
Tim Millwood, 37, and Randy Pitts, 27, of Covington were arrested and charged when investigators from the Newton County, Jasper County and Rockdale Sheriff's Offices visited Millwood's residence May 15 and found the stolen goods visibly lying around the property.
Most of the identified items were from Newton County and Jasper County, with some involvement in Rockdale County, said lead investigator Jerry Roberts of the Jasper County Sheriff's Office.
At least $60,000 worth of goods were recovered from the property, and at least 12 victims have been identified, said Roberts, with many more items from unidentified owners.
According to Roberts, investigators received information May 14 leading them to Millwood's residence.
Millwood, who had a fourth amendment waiver from a previous conviction allowing searches without a search warrant, was not initially home but came back to his residence with Pitts upon the deputies' request.
Roberts and Investigator Sharron Stewart of the Newton County Sheriff's Office said Millwood was very cooperative in giving information about the stolen goods and his and Pitts' activities.
"I think they knew it was up," Roberts said.
The perpetrators, both allegedly on methamphetamines, had been awake for nearly a week and gone almost nonstop on a two-week stealing spree prior to their arrest, Roberts said.
"They would troll around looking for a certain amount of equipment. They were looking for zero-turns with less than a hundred hours," Roberts said.
The popular, zero-turn lawnmowers range in price from several thousand to almost $10,000, Roberts said.
But the two men also would allegedly take whatever was available, breaking into barns and storage buildings.
On the property, investigators found a hodgepodge of equipment and items - some with other people's names on them - including an air compressor, horse saddle, tools, five commercial grade zero-turn lawn mowers, chain saws, utility trailers and other miscellaneous items.
"Normally, these things are swapped for dope, in their case - meth," said Roberts. "The zero-turn lawnmowers, we believe they were stealing them for a third party."
Millwood and Pitts are currently being held in the Jasper County Jail.
Roberts said the investigation was ongoing with the possibility of additional arrests.
Anyone with information about the incidents or victims can contact the Jasper County Sheriff's Office at (706) 468-4312.