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County backhoe theft solved with 2 arrests

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By The Staff

The case of a Levy County backhoe stolen in broad daylight from along a highway has been solved almost a year after the equipment was recovered with the arrests of two men.

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Mitchell Randall Osborn, 32, of Trenton and Oakley Levi Hatten, 29, of Morriston, have been charged with grand theft and each has a $50,000 bond, according to a Sheriff's Office press release. The release said a third suspect will  be arrested in the case.

The 2000 Caterpillar 416 backhoe that was parked in the 4600 block of Northeast 155th Street — County Road 111 — was taken between 9 a.m. and noon on Tuesday, June 22,  2010. The equipment had been parked there a day earlier to be used in a project. When the crew showed up two days later it was missing. 

Investigators followed the tracks that showed the machine — yellow with Levy County decals on the sides, 22 feet long, 7 feet wide, 11 feet high and roughly 22,000 pounds  — was driven across U.S. Highway 27A.

It was later recovered by Sheriff's Sgt. Mike Narayan in the woods in the area of 7800 N.E. 131st Terrace.

Leads were developed and Osborn was arrested on March 7. He confessed that he and Hatten, stole the backhoe. The two attempted to load the backhoe on a trailer and abandoned the Caterpillar in the woods in North/South Estates. Osborn said  Hatten gave him five oxycodone pills for aiding in the theft.  

On July 28, Hatten was arrested. He told deputies that he was paid $300 dollars for stealing and driving the backhoe by a third suspect.

The backhoe had no damage and it was returned back to the Levy County Road Department.