A Marshall County man is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of burglars who took his tools last Saturday morning near Holt's Corner.
"The sad part of this is that it is somebody who knew exactly where they were at," Mike Butler said of the 4-7 a.m. crime on Dec. 18.
"Personally, I feel like I know the person," Butler said. "They knew I'd be in bed on a Saturday morning nine miles from here. Everybody knows me in this area.
"If they get caught, I do feel like it will be somebody I know," he said. "A stranger isn't going to come and cut the lock and come in like they own the place. It takes a real dummy to do that."
Butler has posted and otherwise distributed a number of leaflets announcing the $1,000 reward because of the theft of his Stihl chainsaw valued at $400 and a red Lincoln MIG welder valued at $3,500.
Also missing are chop saws, four "come-alongs" for fence construction and mending, three welding machines and numerous other tools, Butler said estimating his loss at about $15,000.
"I've got some insurance," Butler said, "but not enough to cover the loss of the equipment.
"It would have taken two people to do it; to lift the equipment," he said. "They either got all they could haul, or they got scared.
"They cut the locks of the gate and the shop."
The thefts from a shop building at Butler's farm, 6018 Nashville Highway, are seen as the work of people who've hit other properties.
"We've got a feeling they may be connected," Sheriff Norman Dalton said. "This time of year, burglaries are picking up.
"So be more alert to strange vehicles or people in the area," Dalton advised.
CrimeStoppers hotline is available at 359-4867 to people who want to help solve crime, but who prefer to remain anonymous. The telephone is not answered by police. Callers providing information are given a number or some-such code to identify them when they can collect their reward if the information proves helpful.
CrimeStoppers is also receiving information from the public about the bank robbery at about noon Nov. 19 at First Farmers Bank on Ellington Parkway.
"But the individual [Butler] who's put up the reward [in the tool thefts] has nothing to do with CrimeStoppers," the sheriff said, "so they'd have to arrange that with him."
Butler said he may be called at 615-519-5151, or tipsters may call the Sheriff's Department at 359-6122.
Deputy Tony Nichols responded to the initial call about Butler's burglary and Detective Bob Johnson followed up.
"They lifted some shoe prints," Butler said.
Dalton mentioned three other burglaries on the north side of the county as he expanded on his point that there seems to be a rash of such crimes in that vicinity.
Unit 49 at A-1 Storage on Highway 50, going toward Columbia, was forced open Dec. 16-19. Items worth $7,000 were taken.
Forced entry was gained to a residence at 2176 Horton Way where a pump action Winchester rifle was reported missing on Dec. 18.
At 5396 Simpson Lane, Chapel Hill, a home was entered. The residents reported they were in the back of the house when someone opened the front door. They went to see what happened and a bulky person in a fur-collar jacket turned around and ran out the door.
The man posting the $1,000 reward for those who stole tools from his farm near Holt's Corner builds water storage tanks and travels the nation and the world to do so.
"I'm the type of guy who'd loan anybody anything, and I sponsor teams," Butler said. "But these people here, they didn't want to borrow. They just wanted to take and they did."