A 29-year-old man was arrested in Marion County after he was accused of stealing a street sweeper from his former employer.
On Thursday, September 28, at around 2:45 a.m., a Marion County Sheriff’s Office deputy responded to Pro Lawns Care LLC located at 14680 NE 150th Avenue in Fort McCoy. Upon arrival, the deputy made contact with the owner of the business who advised that his 2008 Elgin street sweeper was stolen from the gravel lot near the business at around 1:30 a.m., according to the arrest report.
The owner stated that only one current employee is authorized to use the street sweeper. According to the report, the owner then showed the deputy video surveillance footage from the time of the theft, and an unknown pickup truck was observed in the driveway of the business.
The deputy noted in the report that an individual wearing a gray hoodie under an orange reflective vest and long dark pants was observed walking around the street sweeper. The individual then touched the vehicle, and soon it was “gone from the property.”
The owner told the deputy that the business believed that a former employee, identified as Kevin Joel Rodriguez Aponte, may have taken the street sweeper. According to the owner, Rodriguez Aponte had left the company approximately six months earlier following an argument about him starting his own business and taking contracts from the owner.
After Rodriguez Aponte left the business, the owner advised that Rodriguez Aponte was told not to return to the property and not to utilize any of the equipment. On Wednesday, September 27, the owner stated that Rodriguez Aponte called him to request use of the street sweeper, and the owner denied the request, according to the report.
The deputy noted that a current employee of the business arrived on scene and confirmed that the street sweeper appeared to be the only equipment that was missing. The employee told the deputy that “only somebody who is trained would be able to operate the street sweeper.”
Shortly after speaking with the deputy, the employee left the business and was heading home when the stolen street sweeper was spotted near the intersection of E Highway 316 and NE Highway 315. The employee quickly called the deputy, and the deputy responded to the area and conducted a traffic stop on the street sweeper, according to the report.
The deputy made contact with the driver of the street sweeper, identified in the report as Rodriguez Aponte, and he was taken into custody.
After being read his Miranda rights, Rodriguez Aponte admitted that he did not have permission to use the street sweeper. He further admitted that it belonged to the owner of Pro Lawns Care LLC, and he stated that he “needed to do a job with the sweeper in Ocala.” He claimed that he was “on his way to return it” prior to the traffic stop, according to the report.
Rodriguez Aponte was arrested, transported to Marion County Jail, and he was released the same day on $2,000 bond. He is facing a felony charge for grand theft of a motor vehicle.
A court date has not been scheduled yet, according to jail records.