Thieves Drive Away With $45,000 in Mowers

Thieves Drive Away With $45,000 in Mowers
By: Carly O'keefe
MARION, Il. -- Ideal Lawn and Tractor owner Roger Followell has watched the surveillance video dozens of times, and he says every time he's amazed at how quickly the thieves pulled away $45,000 worth of his product.
It happened Monday night at 8:35 p.m. at the Ideal Lawn and Tractor store located behind the Illinois Centre Mall. The surveillance video shows four men jumping out of what looks to be a light colored 2004 to 2006 model extended cab Chevrolet pick-up truck--possibly a Silverado. The truck was pulling a 25' white box trailer with a fold down tailgate. Three men drove three mowers, two John Deere Z Track zero turn mowers and one Exmark zero turn mower, one after the other into the trailer. Each of those commercial grade mowers is valued at $15,000.
"It wasn't like they were new to the game. They either mow with these machines every day or they are practiced at stealing them," said Followell.
How did they do it?  Well, according to Followell each of the men actually had a key that started the mowers right up.
"All the manufacturers have universal keys that fit across the board, all the machines. Not just John Deere, all of them," said Followell.
Possibly because the men had keys or just because the theft took place before the sun had set, passing cars and pedestrians by didn't seem think anything of the burglary in progress.
"As they're putting up the tailgate, there's a jogger right there running by, who probably didn't realize the gravity of the situation," said Followell.
Followell says he's already bulked up security at his business, and police are working to enhance the video to make out the faces of the four men. In the meantime, Followell hopes someone out there can help.
"If anyone notices or recognizes these guys or the vehicle--they can help police nail these guys," Followell said.
If you have any information about the vehicle or the theft, you're asked to contact the Marion Police Department.