By Ryan Richardson
A Joplin business owner was the victim of a weekend vandalism spree that resulted in an estimated $37,000 in damages and theft, in addition to putting the company out of service for at least two days.
Sid Davis, owner of Big John’s Heavy Equipment, 1400 E. Vandalia St., reported the damage at 1:34 p.m. Sunday. Two buildings that house office equipment and tools were broken into and several work vehicles on the lot were damaged. The property is fenced, but the vandals appeared to have entered through a wooded area west of the property. Davis said this is the third break-in to the property over the past year.
“We usually had one or two a year before that and it had been minor theft and vandalism, but this is by far the most damage,” Davis said.
According to the Joplin Police Department, vehicle windows and windows in the two buildings were smashed. About $50 worth of equipment was reported stolen. Davis said the damage to the vehicles appeared to come from tools that the vandals found on the property.
“They stole a seat off a tractor and it looks like they took a pickax to the vehicles,” Davis said. “There was so much broken glass in our main work trucks that we weren’t able to use them today.”
The business, which employs five people, focuses on general contracting and traffic management for construction projects. Davis said in addition to the reported damage, his crews were checking the vehicles for less obvious signs of damage.
“Many of our gas caps were taken or messed with and we want to make sure that there wasn’t any fuel tampering or anything else that could make the vehicles inoperable,” Davis said. “We’re doing this at the same time that we are trying to get glass repaired in the main trucks to make them operational again.”
Davis said Sunday’s vandalism resembled previous efforts from vandals. A tree on the western edge of the property was covered in toilet paper. The same tree was covered during a previous vandalism spree.
“When I came in an saw that my tree was TP’d, I knew I was going to be dealing with this again,” Davis said.
During a November break-in, Davis said he caught two teenagers on his property. Davis contacted the police, who then arrested the pair. Det. Darren McIntosh said that two were referred to juvenile court, but no further information was available.
“We have no further interaction once they go to juvenile detention and it is hard to get information when a similar case happens,” McIntosh said.
McIntosh also stated that previous evidence taken from the previous break-ins had not resulted in additional suspects.
Davis said he does not carry insurance to protect against vandalism because of the high cost of premiums and deductible. Damage done to the office equipment will likely be covered under his insurance. Davis will equip his property with surveillance cameras, and is offering a $1,000 reward for the arrest and conviction of the parties involved with the crime.
“I want all of them this time because I’m tired of it,” Davis said. “I don’t know why I haven’t seen any restitution yet. I want this to stop. All it is vindictiveness and pure spite.”