It happened when an officer with the Department of Environmental Protection went to bust litterbugs and instead stumbled onto a crime scene.
He found illegal dumping on federal land, one that required lots of manpower to clean up. Rusted appliances and shotgun shells are the types of dumping Officer Marty McClellan expects to see when he patrols the woods, but Monday morning he learned to expect the unexpected.
“It pays to be aware of what's going on around you, and keep your eyes open.” That's how he spotted the roof of a vehicle in the middle of Turtle Pond. McClellan had stumbled upon a crime scene.
Phil Rivers from The Leon County Sheriff’s Office says, “We treated it as we would any crime scene, secured the area and got the dive team out.”
After equipment checks and a search of the area, it was time to recover the vehicle.
Diver Donnie Jacobs says, “You're always mindful of wildlife, and not to disturb any evidence that may or may not be there.”
After careful examination, the vehicle was identified as a 2003 Dodge Ram that was reported stolen earlier that morning, a sigh of relief for officers expecting the worst.
Their words of advice are, “Keep your vehicle locked up, that's about all I can tell you on this one.”
The vehicle was reported stolen from Nero Tire on Lake Bradford Road around 8 a.m. Monday morning, but officers say it could have been taken anytime between Friday when the business closed and Monday when the owner discovered it missing.
Officers say they've had many problems keeping the Turtle Pond area clean, and they also want to emphasize this type of dumping can carry serious fines and can be a criminal offense.