MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A southeastern Minnesota business owner is offering up to $4,000 per unit to find the responsible party after as many as eight John Deere utility vehicles have been stolen this year.
The value of the four-wheel drive vehicles ranged from $16,000 to $30,000.
Since the beginning of the year, someone has stolen nine vehicles from SEMA Equipment, which owns dealerships in LeRoy, Northfield and Wanamingo.
Terry Mikulecky with SEMA Equipment said he’s had equipment stolen from all of the locations. Eight were four-wheel drive vehicles known as Gators, and one was a mower.
Thus far, the total loss to the dealership is close to $150,000 and insurance is covering only part of their costs.
Mikulecky said the thefts have all happened at night. Thieves have cut through cains and have made off with the popular Gators.
At the Wanamingo location, thieves brook down a metal fence where the Gators were stored.
The most recent thefts happened on Aug. 7 at their LeRoy location, where three John Deere Gator Utility Vehicles were stolen. Back in June, another John Deere utility vehicle and a Z920M ZTrak Mower were stolen. Earlier this year, company officials said four utility vehicles were stolen from the company’s Northfield location.
The Northfield location is on a major street, but no one witnessed the thefts.
“It happens in the dead of night. There is plenty of lighting out there, they just come in and grab and go,” Mikulecky said.
Mikulecky believes an organized group is stealing the vehicles and taking them out of state and selling them.
He is posting reward posters in the communities around the dealerships
Tom Trout who owns a nearby car repair shop is concerned.
“I am a little concerned because it just happened across the street,” Trout said. “I’ve got customers vehicles here I don’t want them broken into, much less my place broken into”
A reward of up to $32,000 is possible for tracking down all eight vehicles and finding the party responsible for the thefts. Anyone with information about the incidents should call Mikulecky at (507) 649-0320.