DEFUNIAK SPRINGS — A man faces criminal mischief charges after stealing a neighbor’s excavator and using it to clear trees on his own property.
On Feb.4, a deputy responded to a DeFuniak Springs property after a caller said he and his wife were having the piece of property cleared by a local company. According to a report from the Walton County Sheriff’s Office, the man said he and his wife went to check up on the progress on the property when they noticed a man driving an excavator on the back of the land. The excavator belonged to the owner of the company hired to clear the land, but the man driving the excavator was not the owner.
The man contacted the owner, who said he did not know who the man driving the excavator was and he was not one of his employees. The rogue excavator driver told the man his name and that he worked for the county.
Another person then came to check on the property and the same man was still there, driving the excavator. When they approached the man, he said, “I’m in trouble, aren’t I?”
Police responded to the excavator driver’s home later that day. The man told law enforcement he had keys to the excavator from an old heavy equipment job. He said he saw the excavator and decided to use it to clear land on his side of the property.
The owner of the property said the man did upwards of $10,000 in damage to his side of the property, including removing trees and brush.
The man was charged with criminal mischief $1,000 or more, a felony.