A Chipley business owner says a recent break-in has been devastating.
Last week, five expensive riding lawn mowers were taken from lane's outdoor equipment. Authorities are closer to making an arrest.
Washington County sheriff's investigators are looking for clues in the very expensive heist, and really it has made other Panhandle business owners think twice about their security.
Sometime during the night of Saturday, November 3rd, a burglar or burglars got through the security gate at Lane's Outdoor Equipment. They managed to steal five Scag Riding Mowers. Each one lists for around $10,000 dollars.
Owner Johnny Lane said, "You can't make that up in a year selling a line of lawn mowers. It really hurts, insurance won't cover the entire cost, and they are not too pleased with me right now."
This is the second time this year Lane's Outdoor has been burglarized. Authorities say more and more businesses are spending on high-tech security systems complete with cameras and alarms.
Sheriff Bobby Haddock, with the Washington Co. Sheriff's Department said, "The old saying, ‘if a thief wants to steal it, he'll find a way to do it’. But as a businessman, you can make it tougher by placing the security cameras and alarm systems."
In neighboring Bonifay, Holmes County, business owners have heard about the theft of the five riding lawn mowers. They are making sure precautions are in place."
Micah McCormick, with Jerkins Inc. said, "A few years ago, we put in the security cameras and alarms systems. We have even somebody staying here at night to make it as secure as we can [make it]."
Johnny Lane says he plans to continue to do business, he just hopes the culprits can be caught.
And, Washington County authorities are checking with surrounding towns and cities to see if they've had similar thefts of mowers and construction equipment.
If you have information on this theft of the riding lawn mowers, contact the Washington County Sheriff's Department Tips' Line at 850-638-TIPS.