POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Half a dozen people were accused of stealing construction equipment from Home Depot stores across the state of Florida and selling them on social media.
According to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, the suspects arrested in “Operation Heavy Lift” were charged with grand theft and scheming to defraud for allegedly failing to return equipment rented from Home Depot stores in 16 counties.
Authorities allege at least 50 thefts occurred, totaling almost $600,000 in losses to The Home Depot.
“We have found they have stolen 61 pieces of equipment,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said. “The loss to Home Depot is well over $1 million.”
The stolen items include utility loaders, stump grinders, trenchers, and mini-excavators and trailers, according to the sheriff’s office. To date, only 10 pieces of equipment have been recovered so far.
Judd asked the community to come forward if they had information on the case, or own a piece of equipment that may have been stolen form the Home Depot.
The Attorney General’s Office of Statewide Prosecution is taking on the case because the alleged thefts happened in over a dozen counties: Brevard, Broward, Duval, Hernando, Hillsborough, Indian River, Lake, Manatee, Orange, Palm Beach, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Seminole, St. Johns, and St. Lucie.
“None of these people are ever welcome on Home Depot property,” Judd added. “So from now on, if they step one foot onto Home Depot property, we’re going to put their shiny hiney in the county jail.”