OKEECHOBEE — Investigators are busily searching for clues into the recent thefts of a pickup truck and an open-style trailer loaded with a cattle chute.
Calls started coming in to the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO) when two trucks were stolen within minutes of each other.
First, a Ford F-250 Super Duty pickup was reported stolen from in front of a local business on U.S. 98 North at 9:27 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 27. Then, about 90 minutes later, a Ford F-550 truck was reported stolen from an address just a few blocks from that business.
Then, the very next day, the trailer and cattle chute were stolen from another business on U.S. 98 North. That theft was reported at 9:51 a.m.
“It’s very possible all were done at the same time,” said OCSO Detective Lieutenant Brad Stark.
But, added Lt. Stark, the 550 was later found a few blocks away where it was apparently abandoned by thieves when they discovered it was nearly out of gas.
The other truck, however, remains missing.
OCSO Detective Mark Shireman, who has been tasked with finding the missing items, said the F-250 was locked. The owner apparently told him there was a key hidden in the cab of the truck, but it’s unlikely the thieves would have found it.
So, that truck was likely hot-wired, pointed out Lt. Stark.
Although the F-550 was locked, Detective Shireman said the key was in the ignition.
Lt. Stark said the F-550 was not damaged and the only thing taken from the vehicle was a flashlight.
The stolen F-250 has an estimated value of $15,000, while the trailer is valued at $4,259 and the cattle chute’s value was set at $6,800.
The white F-250 is a 2006 model with silver trim along the bottom of the vehicle. It is a crew cab with an 8-foot bed and is equipped with a diesel engine. It also has a decal of a pink pig on the tailgate.
According to fliers put out by the sheriff’s office, the trailer is 7 feet x 22 feet and is open and black in color. Its identification number is 57BEE7224E1020927.
The cattle chute is a red W&W Standard model. Its serial number is 76684.
Detective Shireman said whoever took these items not only knew where they were, but were good at what they were doing.
“The were technically proficient and stole the vehicles within minutes,” he said.
At this point in time, pointed out Lt. Stark, it’s not known where the stolen items were taken.
Detective Shireman also offered this word of caution to Ford Super Duty owners.
“This model of vehicle is easier to steal than others. If you own one, take extra measures to keep it secured,” he said.
If you have any information about these items or this case, contact Detective Shireman at 863-763-3117, ext. 5113.
Eric Kopp is a staff writer for the Okeechobee News