The crew working on an ongoing sidewalk project in the area of East Wilson Street and Thomas Dorsey Drive in Villa Rica left their Bobcats in a grassy lot at the intersection they were working near when they quit for the day last Thursday only to find out the next day the city-owned Bobcat 763 had been stolen between 5 p.m. Thursday and midnight.
“We’ve never had anything like this stolen from one of our job sites,” Deputy City Manager Jeff Reese said.
A second Bobcat owned by a contractor working on the project — Classic Curb and Gutter — had the ignition wires cut in what appeared to be an attempt to “hot wire” the vehicle, but the perpetrators apparently couldn’t get the vehicle started.
“I’m just glad this one wasn’t stolen,” said Terry Hawkins of Classic Curb and Gutter. “They must have not known what they were doing because they cut the wrong wires.”
It is believed the stolen Bobcat was hot wired as well, but the second Bobcat had a security pad on it that may have thwarted the theft.
The stolen Bobcat was a 1993 model the City Services/Parks and Recreation Division has been using for the past five years on projects that range from construction of The Mill amphitheater to the Pine Mountain Gold Museum to the V-Plex to the various sidewalks that have been installed in the city the last three years. Though the vehicle had some wear on it, the department had completely rebuilt most of it the past few years.
“That’s been our main piece of equipment for the Recreation Department,” said Maintenance Superintendent Danny Fischer. “It was a good piece of equipment after we had redone it and everything. It bothers me that we’re up here doing something nice for the community putting in sidewalks and the fact that somebody would still a piece of equipment we’re using to do that is disheartening.”
Though the equipment was insured, its value wasn’t much more than the deductible so officials are currently renting a Bobcat while they continue on their sidewalk project and are pricing the purchase of a new one.
“The sad thing about it is having to rent the equipment is going to cut into the money we had set aside for new sidewalks,” Reese said. “We’re getting prices on a new one right now and I’ll carry that to the mayor and council and let them look at it.”
The current sidewalk project has been ongoing for about three weeks with another three weeks or so remaining. When complete, there will be sidewalks — including curb and gutter — down most of Thomas Dorsey Drive and East Wilson Street.
Anyone with any information can contact VRPD Sgt. Brian Finley at 770-459-5149 or call Crimestoppers at 770-838-STOP. Tips through Crimestoppers that help with a conviction could lead to a reward.