Police probe multiple lawnmower thefts in Richmond

By Andy Jenks - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - For five weeks in a row, lawnmowers have been stolen from homes in Richmond's East End. That includes the neighborhoods of Fulton, Oakwood, Union Hill, and Church Hill.

The thefts began in late May and happened every week in the month of June. Police are concerned the thefts will continue, unless changes are made.

The woman they call "Auntie" Chetta says, in Church Hill, there's a lotta talk about missing lawnmowers.

"They going around, breaking in, and they're scoping out the area," said Chetta.

Since May 28, thefts have been reported twice on the 200 block of Fenton Street, and once each on the 3100 block of Q Street, 800 block of Jessamine Street, and the 2200 block of Venable Street.

Several weeks ago, when it happened to her elderly neighbor, she actually followed the stolen lawnmower, and decided it was time for action.

"And I saw him where he put it. And then the next morning I came over with some people. They stole the lawnmower back and put it in my car," Chetta said.

Chetta never could identify the suspect, which may explain why the thefts continued for a span of five consecutive weeks. Lawnmowers were stolen from back yards and even a front porch.

"We've had 'em taken during the day while people were at work and also at night when people are asleep," said Richmond Police Lt James Laino, First Precinct.

Police say the lawnmowers are often sold for a quick profit and they're hard to track, since most people don't record their serial number. So they're hoping neighbors take steps to protect themselves.

"You really need to take the time to use a lock or a chain and secure it to a permanent structure within your yard," he said.

And if neighbors can't do that, they better know someone, like Chetta.

"I took it back to her, because I was like, you are not gonna steal nothing from this old lady," Chetta said.

It's unclear if all of the thefts are related but police say, yes,  the suspect may be someone who cuts grass in the area.

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