Stolen truck spotted at Florida toll stations

Published 8:35 pm Friday, July 14, 2017

A truck, trailer and tractor belonging to a Maplesville business that was stolen from a Selma gas station was spotted hundreds of miles away.

Vickie Smith, owner of Blackbelt Sewer and Drain Cleaning, along with her husband James, recently received two tickets in the mail from the Florida Department of Transportation for their stolen truck.

“The [ticket] in Clermont, Florida was at 1:28 a.m. Eastern time … and then the second one was in Jupiter, Florida at 7:42 a.m. Eastern time six hours later,” she said.

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The truck, which was parked at the Crossroads Exxon at the intersection of U.S. Highway 80 West and Alabama Highway 14, was stolen sometime between May 25 and June 5. Smith said it was common for them to park the truck at the gas station in-between jobs.

The truck is a white 1984 International with a blue stripe. It was pulling a trailer with a 2007 Caterpillar backhoe on it.

Smith said the tickets were dated June 5, which is the same day they realized the truck and equipment was missing and reported it stolen.

Clermont, Florida is roughly 500 miles from Selma, and Jupiter is around 660 miles away.

“Upon our research, we found out they are only three hours apart, so they stopped somewhere for a couple of hours in-between the two tickets, and the tickets were for four axels, so it is still pulling a trailer,” Smith said.

The truck was ticketed in Florida for going through toll booths without paying the toll. Smith said the toll booth cameras snapped a photo of the alleged thief, but they have no idea who it is.

After the pictures were posted on the company’s Facebook page, someone commented, “That’s my brother.” Another person commented claiming the person in the phot was their cousin.

“Both of those people’s Facebook pages show they’re in Springhill, Florida, which is less than an hour away from Jupiter, Florida,” Smith said.

“When we called the Florida Highway Patrol about the tickets, we also gave them that information.”

Smith said officials with the Florida Highway Patrol called Monday and said they planned on bringing in those two people for questioning, but they haven’t heard anything back yet.

Stealing the truck was no easy task to begin with. When the truck was stolen, the thief or thieves got it stuck on the bank, and they had to use the backhoe to get the truck unstuck. Smith said she is surprised the truck made it as far away as it did because of an issue with the radiator.

“The truck had a whole in the top part of the radiator, so if you went more than 100 miles, you would have to stop and put water in it,” she said. “So we know that they’ve either repaired that, or they were having to stop every so often to put water in it.”

With the truck and equipment being missing for over a month now, Smith said the business has taken a hit.

“We’ve actually had to pass off installation jobs, had to have our customers call another installer,” Smith said. “Our best guesstimate is we’re losing around $2,500 to $4,000 a week on jobs we’ve had to pass up or pass off to someone else.”

The company is offering a $1,500 reward for information that leads to the truck and equipment being returned.