TRINITY — On his way home from a late-night business meeting with his agency's attorneys, Sheriff Bob White saw something unusual: a pair of speeding trucks towing lawn equipment trailers out of the woods.
White called for his deputies, and by early Monday morning, two men were in custody on charges of stealing five vehicles and three trailers with lawn equipment, worth a total of $50,000.
White saw the trucks about 12:30 a.m. Monday exiting the woods at the east end of Town Avenue, heading north on Starkey Boulevard. White, traveling with his union and contract attorney Richard Corcoran, called dispatch and asked deputies to be sent to the scene. Jeremiah Hawkes, White's staff attorney, followed in his own vehicle.
Meanwhile, one truck left the roadway and got stuck, White said. The truck's driver ran away. Then, a man wearing a ski mask, black T-shirt and gloves got inside a vehicle driven by another man and fled while deputies followed.
Corcoran and Hawkes also tried to help deputies find the men, White said.
Eventually the suspects — identified as Shawn Baker, 24, and Jessie R. Johnson, 19 — were arrested after a foot chase with deputies, White said.
The recovered truck and lawn trailer were stolen from a business off Leo Kidd Avenue, White said. Another stolen truck with a lawn trailer was abandoned on Decubellis Road, east of Starkey Boulevard. That truck was stolen from a business on Industrial Drive.
Deputies also found three stolen trucks and another lawn trailer in a wooded area on Town Avenue. Those items were stolen off Merchant Way.
White identified Baker in a lineup, according to a report from the Sheriff's Office. Baker, of 9933 Cardy St. in Hudson, and Johnson, whose last known address was 10310 Linwood St. in New Port Richey, were being booked into the Land O'Lakes jail on Monday evening.