[UPDATE] 3-2 2:50pm --
The investigation into the Wakulla County theft of a flatbed wrecker and two John Deere ATV (Gators) in February spread to the Atlanta, Ga. area this week as sheriff’s office detectives connected the Sopchoppy thefts to a Georgia theft ring, according to Sheriff David Harvey.
In late February, Detectives Nick Boutwell and Derek Lawhon were contacted by the Cobb County Police Department in Marietta, Ga. about a wrecker, owned by Randy Joseph Crum of Wakulla County, which was recovered in North Georgia. The wrecker was stolen Feb. 13.
Cobb County Police arrested Seals Lamar Bridges, 38, of Mapleton, Ga. on unrelated charges. Wakulla arrest warrants were obtained for Bridges who was found driving the stolen wrecker. A second suspect was identified in the Carroll County, Ga. Jail. During the interview with the suspect, the detectives learned that that stolen John Deere ATV (Gators) was last seen at the Mapleton, Ga. home of Bridges.
During the investigation of the Mapleton property, a suspicious brown sedan left the area. During an attempted traffic stop, the sedan led law enforcement officials on a pursuit throughout the city. Eventually, the vehicle was stopped by Detective Boutwell, Detective James Bartlett of Cobb County and other police units.
Upon making contact with the occupants of the vehicle, it was discovered that Seals was in the vehicle. He had been released from jail on bond on Feb. 18, but was taken back into custody. Another subject in the vehicle was taken into custody for giving a false name. He was later identified as David Ordonez, 56. Ordonez lives at Bridges’ residence and was near the stolen wrecker when Bridges was arrested the first time.
Bridges and Ordonez were both interviewed by Wakulla detectives and information was obtained identifying other suspects involved with the thefts of the wrecker and ATV (Gators). Information was also obtained about an organized crime ring involved in stealing property in the Southeast and selling the stolen property in Georgia.
The investigation is ongoing with additional interviews with suspects planned. The stolen wrecker has been returned to the owner. The location of the John Deere ATV (Gators), owned by Bill Willeby of Gadsden County, is unknown but additional leads are being pursued, added Sheriff Harvey.
Bridges faces three felony counts of grand theft and one count of criminal mischief.
Bridges remains in jail in Georgia. He is awaiting the extradition process back to Florida. Additional arrests in the case are anticipated. The total value of the stolen wrecker and two ATVs is $34,200.
A flat bed wrecker, John Deer utility vehicles and a utility trailer....all gone missing and Wakulla County deputies need your help finding the vehicle thief.
Deputies say two John Deere utility vehicles and an 18 foot utility trailer were reported missing from a lot on Sopchoppy Highway Friday evening.
Then on Sunday evening, deputies say someone stole a 1996 flatbed wrecker from C and L Towing on that same road.
Authorities say its possible the two incidents are related.
The utility trailer was recovered Monday, but the other vehicles are still missing.
C and L Towing is offering a $500 cash award for anyone with any information on their missing flat bed wrecker.
If you have any information, please call the Wakulla County Sheriff's Office at 850-745-7100