Heavy machinery theft is costing consumers

New details tonight on a stolen piece of construction equipment you saw only on Action News Five.

The Bobcat front end loader stolen from a West Memphis school has been found.

The construction company that rented the Bobcat credits television reports and an anonymous tip to police. But they say construction equipment theft is multi-million dollar crime that doesn't end with this Bobcat.

The Bobcat Skidsteer Loader stolen from a West Memphis construction site was a rental from Williams Equipment and Supply. The stolen Bobcat was recovered---the suspected thief thrown in jail, but contractors say it's a huge problem.

This isn't the first time contractor Neal Christenbury has had equipment or tools stolen from one of his construction sites. He says theft isn't cheap.

"That cost has to be passed along to the owner and ultimately the consumers so it costs every including insurance rates...our insurance rates are constantly sky-rocketing," said Christenbury of Smith-Doyle Contractors.

So who's stealing heavy equipment? Sometimes its just a guy trying to get some quick cash, but there are organized rings.

"The FBI and Shelby County Task Force a few years ago," said Gordon McIntyre of Williams Equipment and Supply. "They uncovered a ring out of missouri that was stealing equipment out of missouri and selling it down here and vice versa they were taking equipment across state lines which is how the FBI got involved."

"The parts on these things are extremely expensive, to break it down and to part it out is definitely profitable," he said.

Even though his company has recently been targeted by thieves, McIntyre says the contractors have a harder time dealing with theft because it's hard to provide a lot of security at an open construction site.

It's hard to keep a thief out of an open construction site. But contractors and equipment manufacturers are using tougher security measures to keep their losses down.