Mower thefts from Columbia business under investigation


Police were alerted of the fraudulent purchase of two zero-turn lawn mowers and two weed trimmers valued at more than $25,000 from Bi-County Small Engine Center, 7779 State Route 158 in Columbia, early Friday afternoon.

At about 1:05 p.m., the business informed police that the items were purchased using a credit card that came back as fraudulent.

Police are still searching for two black males in a white Chevrolet dually truck with dealer plates that is pulling an enclosed trailer with orange weed eaters attached on the outside.

“The suspects used a credit card to make the purchases, which initially cleared through the system. Only later was it learned that the card used was fraudulent,” St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department Capt. Bruce Fleshren said.

Early Saturday afternoon, a different man entered the business – driving a different vehicle – and talked about making a similar type of purchase.

This subject left before deputies could arrive, but was stopped a short time later by Columbia police at Midwest Petroleum, 1553 N. Main Street, and taken into custody on other charges. Columbia police said Maurice L. Davis, 45, of St. Louis, was arrested for driving while license revoked.

“There are similar cases in both Missouri and Illinois where suspects have purchased large amounts of equipment with false credit cards,” Fleshren said. “The investigation here is just starting to determine if these cases and suspects are related.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department at 618-825-5204.

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