NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco County deputies say they have charged three men in a "high dollar burglary ring" that has preyed on the area since 2007.
The thefts include breaking into a cemetery to steal lawn equipment, using a construction company's own forklift to break open and rob storage boxes and stealing a truck from the Department of Environmental Protection in Hernando County.
The thefts varied — golf carts, a $40,000 backhoe, radio-controlled toys, dirt bikes, chain saws.
Stolen cars were stripped and burned.
Trinity Memorial Gardens was hit twice.
At a construction site in New Port Richey, thieves broke the back window of a truck, hot-wired the ignition and plowed it straight through the company's chain-link fence.
The crimes peppered the west side of Pasco County and reached north into Citrus and Hernando. They happened night and day.
The thieves stole from businesses and residences. They went "where they could find the property," sheriff's spokesman Kevin Doll said.
The suspects charged Tuesday are:
• Shawn M. Baker, 25, of 9933 Cardy St. in Moon Lake. Baker has been in jail since July 27, when Sheriff Bob White, on his way home after a late-night business meeting, spotted a pair of speeding trucks towing lawn equipment out of the woods in Trinity.
White summoned deputies and Baker was arrested along with 19-year-old Jessie R. Johnson of New Port Richey.
The Sheriff's Office said the trucks and equipment were stolen from area businesses.
Doll said these arrests began the investigation into the theft ring.
Baker was held Wednesday without bail. He faces numerous theft and burglary charges. Johnson was released from jail in August.
• Darrell A. Sedilko, 24, of 12637 Choctaw Trail in Hudson.
He has been in jail since Aug. 14 and faces several theft and burglary charges.
As of Wednesday, he was held in lieu of $95,000 bail.
• Richard A. Crain, 22, of 12832 Walnut Tree Lane in Hudson has been in jail since Nov. 23. He also faces a string of theft and burglary charges. He was held without bail.
Doll said the investigation is ongoing.
"We expect more arrests," he said.
Erin Sullivan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6229.