Backhoe purchased to clean up debris after hurricane stolen from church

Theft reported Sunday at Kendall United Methodist Church

PINECREST, Fla. – A backhoe that was purchased to clean up debris after Hurricane Irma and for other mission work was stolen Sunday from Kendall United Methodist Church.

The theft occurred about 5 p.m. at the church at 7600 SW 104th St. in Pinecrest.

"We did hear a noise. We came out and actually saw the people who took it, but the person who saw them never (thought) that they would take it," Pastor Ruben Velasco said. 

Surveillance video from a nearby business captured the backhoe being trailered away. 

A church spokesman said the John Deere 410D backhoe was recently purchased along with a tractor, chainsaws and other equipment to clean up the church grounds after the hurricane.


The backhoe was also going to be used for debris removal at other nearby churches, as well as for mission work. 

"A lot of the churches are struggling, and so we thought, what better way to serve the community than to get some equipment and just go out and do the work and clean up," parishoner Al Merritt said. 

The spokesman said the backhoe was parked in front of the church's mission office on Southwest 77th Avenue when it was stolen.   

A witness told authorities that two thin, Hispanic men in their 20s loaded the backhoe onto a white truck. 

Anyone with information about the theft is asked to call the Pinecrest Police Department at 305-234-2100 or Velasco at 305-304-0107.

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