While working regular shift in Sumter County, Trooper Jimmie Davis stopped the driver of a U-Haul truck bearing an Arizona tag for following too closely. During the stop, Trooper Jason Lemery arrived. When Trooper Davis walked K-9 Jewels around the U-Haul, Jewels alerted to the driver's side door. A search of the cab area revealed only the odor of burnt marijuana. The driver said that he did not have a key for the padlock on the rear of the truck. As Trooper Davis was running a warrant check on the driver, Trooper Lemery saw the driver take a key from his watch pocket and put it in his right shoe. Trooper Lemery obtained the key and opened the rear door of the U-Haul. The truck was loaded, not with drugs this time, but with piles of stucco mesh, a building material. The driver claimed to have no knowledge of the contents. He stated that he was being paid to drive the truck from Gainesville to Miami. The passenger said they were going to Miami and that the mesh had been picked up from a job site in Gainesville. The troopers remained suspicious
Because the driver of the U-Haul had no valid driver's license, he was arrested and booked into the Sumter County jail. The passenger was identified and released. Still curious about the contents of the truck, the troopers requested a teletype be sent to the northern region of the state to all agencies. A second teletype was sent several days later. However, there was no response from the teletypes. After a week of investigation, Troopers Lemery and Davis located the owner of the building materials, who was in Ocala. The stucco mesh had been stolen from the Seacoast Supply Company. The estimated retail value of the mesh was approximately $16,000. The stolen material was turned over to Seacoast and detectives from the Ocala Police Department have issued arrest warrants for the two occupants of the U-Haul. It seems that stucco mesh is a very popular item that is stolen fairly regularly from Florida businesses and shipped illegally to the Caribbean and other areas hit by last year’s hurricanes. Several other cases of theft of this material have been discovered in the last several months.
Troopers Jimmie Davis and Jason Lemery are to be commended for their excellent police work and for their determination in locating the proper owner of the building materials. Great job!