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Excavator reported stolen from work site

By Linda Looney-Bond

lbond@news-daily.com

Local authorities are on the lookout for a piece of equipment weighing 16,000 pounds that was reported stolen from a construction site off Tara Boulevard.

The foreman of the work site, where a park-and-ride bus facility is being built near Tara Boulevard and Smith Street, reported on Friday that an excavator had been stolen from the site, according to a Jonesboro Police report.

According to the report, John Runkle, the project's superintendent, told police it had been parked in the northwest corner of the lot by one of his workers and stolen some time July 28 or July 29.

"Whoever stole it knew what they were stealing," John Brister, project manager for Astra Group, the construction site contractor, said in a phone interview Tuesday. "This wasn't just driven down the street. It had to be hauled out of there."

Brister said the excavator was valued at around $25,000. "That would be the current market value. To buy one new, it would be around $45,000 to $55,000," he said. He said the company bought the excavator used, more than a year ago.

Brister said the company does not experience the theft of such a heavy piece of equipment often, but it has happened before.

"We haven't had one stolen in a long time, but about two and a half years ago we had a rubber tire loader ... stolen off of one of our job sites, and driven down a major street to a bank, where they used it to steal an ATM," said Brister.

He said that piece of equipment, worth about $35,000, was recovered after the burglars left the machine at the scene of the ATM robbery in Buford.

Although the excavator stolen last week was insured, Runkle said the theft creates a hardship.

"It puts an inconvenience on us, and slows us down," he said. "Right now we're using our subcontractor's equipment."