Vandals torch pricey construction equipment

By Lori Brown - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Memphis police are trying to determine who set fire to a backhoe behind a local elementary school.  The once pricey piece of equipment, used to dig, scoop, and haul is now just a hunk of junk.

According to police, it took only moments for vandals to watch a $40,000 piece of construction equipment go up in smoke, just behind Balmoral Elementary School in East Memphis.

"When a crime like this happens, we're going to try our best to solve it and bring these people to justice," said Major Charles Gordon of the Memphis Police Department.

Police believe vandals set the backhoe on fire on July 4th, but investigators didn't receive the call on it until someone discovered it the following Monday.  People reported they saw several kids shooting fireworks off near the school at ten at night on the 4th, and then saw kids running away.

As late as Friday, spent fireworks still surrounded the site where the backhoe was found.  Still, police aren't exactly sure what sparked the fire.

"At first we had some leads, but they turned out negative, so we decided to put it out there maybe someone had some information," Gordon said.

The fire burned long enough to blast out glass and turn metal to a crisp, but what happened so fast is now a slow problem to clean up.

Nearly two weeks later, the backhoe is still an eyesore sitting behind the school.

Meanwhile, investigators say this is a crime that costs everyone through higher insurance rates.  If you know who is responsible, call CrimeStoppers at 901-528-CASH.

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