MANATEE -- Luis Ortiz, owner of the Ortiz Tropical Landscape professional gardening company in Bradenton Beach, reported a $12,000 theft of lawn equipment at his business Monday night but got a bigger surprise less than 12 hours later.
After reporting the theft to the Manatee County Sheriff's Office at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday, and filing a report with a deputy at 8 a.m., Ortiz he was notified at 9 a.m. most stolen items were recovered, he said."I feel super," said the lucky Ortiz, whose two-man crew loaded his stolen "Grasshopper" riding mower and a push mower from the backyard of a house in the 8100 block of 43rd Avenue West into a white trailer that had also been stolen and recovered.
"They had been taken right from my company yard Monday night and I got it back quick," a delighted Ortiz said. "Guys who do this shouldn't get away with it."
The way the items were found was anything but routine.
The sheriff's office warrant unit arrived at the suspect's home just off Cortez Road and close to Bradenton Beach around 7 a.m., not to look for stolen goods, but to search for a wanted individual in an unrelated circumstance, said Lt. William Evers.
The deputies didn't find their man at the residence but noticed equipment at the house matching a description of stolen goods just received, Evers said.
"The warrants guys were paying attention," Evers said. "They were on it."
The warrants crew notified sheriff's office detectives who came to the house around 9 a.m. and confirmed an aluminum boat, riding mower and a push power mower were all stolen, Evers said.
The sheriff's office is not revealing the name of the person it was seeking at the house or if the individual is a suspect in the thefts.
No arrests were immediately made in the case of the stolen landscaping equipment as the investigation is continuing, Evers said.
Ortiz said he is still missing three big leaf blowers, two hedgers and a weed trimmer.
Besides recovering stolen goods, detectives also called Manatee County Animal Control after discovering a pit bull in the house seemed unhealthy, Evers said.
"The dog looked skinny," Evers said.
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or contact him via Twitter@RichardDymond.