CLEVELAND, TN (WRCB) -- Steven Williams is the president and co-owner of Steve Williams Construction in Cleveland. Earlier this month his business took a hard hit.
"We'd come in Monday morning to go to work and noticed none of the machines would start, started checking batteries and very quickly realized that all of the batteries had been cut off approximately 28 machines," says Williams.
The burglary set the company back two weeks of work and was extremely costly.
"Just in the batteries, cables, damage to the machines and parts, probably in the $50,000 range," Williams says.
Detectives believe Williams' business is just one on a list of area companies including a Bradley County marine shop hit by the same person, 19-year-old Scottie Lee Higgins.
The owner of J & J Marine Sales says 30 batteries were stolen from his boats.
"They were simply taking cutters, cutting the lines and pulling the battery out," says Cleveland Detective Matt Jenkins.
Jenkins says the burglaries started in Ooltewah and Collegedale, and then moved to Cleveland and Bradley County. But they didn't identify a suspect until after Chattanooga police came face-to-face with him a couple days later on Signal Mountain Road, where they caught him in the act.
He was arrested and cited for vandalism, but was not taken into custody. He hasn't been seen since.
"We've actually tracked him to three different addresses and they're all in three separate counties. We've got Meigs County, Hamilton county, then also here in Bradley County," Jenkins says.
The Cleveland Police Department is offering a cash reward and the Bradley County Sheriff's Office says it will match that for any information leading to Higgins' arrest.
"Even if you don't know where he is but you know information about where these batteries went, if you've helped him haul them. I'd much rather you be a witness than a defendant," Higgins says.
"I'm not saying that we don't look for the full measure of justice for where we're at but there is a lot of people praying for this young man," says Williams.
Wednesday, June 19 2013 6:55 PM EDT2013-06-19 22:55:48 GMT
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