Thomasville Times Enterprise

December 31, 2013

Suspect in equipment thefts jailed in Florida

Patti Dozier

THOMASVILLE — A man incarcerated in Florida is believed to be responsible for a number of equipment thefts in several Georgia communities, including Thomasville and Cairo.

The Thomas County Sheriff’s Office chief investigator has asked the U.S. attorney’s office for assistance in the case involving Darrell Earl Plank, 8296 Grove Road, Brooksville, Fla.

Plank, who is being held in the Hernando County (Fla.) Jail, faces several charges of stealing John Deere and Kubota tractors in several Georgia jurisdictions.

Information from the Hernando sheriff’s office shows Plank pawned and sold various items, including large tractors, riding lawn mowers, tools, farm equipment and furniture, among other items.

Lt. Tim Watkins, Thomas County Sheriff’s Office chief investigator, said Plank drove along I-75 and stole equipment in small communities off the interstate highway.

Hernando County information says the suspect took the items there, altered vehicle identification numbers on the tractors and transported them to a local pawn shop or listed them on Craig’s List for sale.

To date, stolen property has been identified as coming from:

• Thomas County

• Turner County

• Colquitt County

• Cairo

• Cordele

• Montezuma

• Lee County, Fla.

Watkins said Plank will be charged with taking a backhoe from Sunset Memorial Gardens on U.S. 84 East in Thomas County.

“He’s a suspect in several other thefts,” Watkins said. “We have several other tractor thefts.”

A warrant has been issued in Thomas County charging Plank with felony theft by taking.

A John Deere tractor was stolen from a Grady County business.

The trailer on which Plank is believed to have transported the stolen equipment had an altered vehicle identification number. The owner has not been identified.

The truck used in the thefts was stolen.

Watkins said the U.S. attorney’s office has been asked to enter the case.

“He’s taken property back across state lines. He’s also stolen from businesses, which will interfere with interstate commerce,” Watkins said.

Senior reporter Patti Dozier can be reached at (229) 226-2400, ext. 1820.