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Machinery thefts active for years

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GCSO makes new arrest in case

ROBERT ALLEN 

Times Reporter 

Investigators from the Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office report uncovering another link in the chain of stolen equipment sales. 

 

Freddie Figgers, a local man, is accused of possessing stolen machinery: a Kabota excavator and a Caterpillar backhoe tractor. GCSO arrested Figgers on Feb. 25. 

 

GCSO investigators checked the serial numbers on both piece of equipment. The numbers matched machines reported to the Leon County Sheriff’s Office as stolen, according to an arrest report.

 

Both pieces of equipment were taken last fall from Brian Miller of Brian’s Septic in Leon County. 

 

“They broke into my shop,” said Miller. “They cut the chain on my gate.”

Miller, who invested in his new shop just before the burglary, is the third generation to run the family business. Theft, he said, was never a problem in the past. 

 

“It took at least three or four people to pull off what they did at my place,” said Miller. “It’s definitely a team that’s doing it.”

 

The current allegations against Figgers do not involve participation in the theft.

 

According to Figgers’ arrest report, several witnesses saw Figgers using both pieces of Miller’s equipment to clear property on 11th Street in Quincy. The same report says Officer Harold Barber of the Quincy Police Department saw Figgers clearing property on the same street. 

 

One of these witnesses provided a recorded statement, naming an additional individual who transported both pieces of equipment on a dual-axel trailer. 

 

Acquired information led GCSO investigators to the machinery, according to the arrest report. They found both pieces hidden in a wooded area along Joe Adams Road. 

 

Miller said authorities told him the thieves could not find a buyer for his equipment, requiring them to keep the machines concealed wherever they could find enough space and sufficient seclusion. 

 

“This investigation is still ongoing and there’s still equipment being uncovered — almost daily,” said Maj. Tommy Mills of GCSO. 

 

Miller retrieved both pieces of his stolen machinery from GCSO. 

 

A third piece of equipment, one Snapper zero-turn lawnmower, was brought to GCSO by a local man who said he purchased the mower from Figgers for around $1,800. The man paid Figgers in cash, according to the report. When GCSO received the mower, no serial numbers remained. The local man said they were already gone when he purchased the machine. 

 

Figgers’ arrest report does not outline any connection between Figgers and the stolen property allegations that led GCSO to arrest Charles Hayes, James Garner and Ricardo Jackson. However, according to the report, GCSO investigators gathered their information about Figgers while investigating these previous cases. 

“We have to slow down and deal with the intelligence,” said Mills, explaining the information GCSO collects must be carefully considered and applied. Mills said this series of cases offers no simple solutions. He said the network of stolen equipment in Gadsden and surrounding counties has likely been developing for five years. 

“We’re definitely not near the bottom of it yet,” said Mills. “We want to be at the bottom of it.”

 

At the time of this arrest, Figgers was already out on bond after being charged with aggravated assault in a previous case with the Quincy Police Department. Figgers’ bond for the recent charge, dealing in stolen property, was set at $5,000.