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3 arrested, 1 wanted in heavy equipment theft operation

Equipment included excavators, skid steers and trailers across North Florida and South Georgia

From left to right: Robert Sanders, Matthew Yopp, Tony Richards and Joshua Redd
From left to right: Robert Sanders, Matthew Yopp, Tony Richards and Joshua Redd (Provided by Suwannee County Sheriff's Office)

Three men were arrested and another man is wanted in a theft operation that involved stealing and selling heavy equipment across North Florida and South Georgia, according to the Suwannee County Sheriff’s Office.

Robert Sanders, 44, of Lake City, was identified as a “high-ranking member” of the organization and solicited people to steal specific heavy equipment that he could sell, according to Suwannee County investigators. The equipment included mini excavators, skid steers, utility trailers and zero-turn lawnmowers.

During the investigation, two other men were identified as suspects – Matthew Yopp, 27, of Mayo, and Joshua Redd, 35, of Lake City.

The Sheriff’s Office said Yopp and Redd stole numerous trailers and pieces of heavy equipment across North Florida and South Georgia.

A fourth man, Tony Richards, 40, of Lake City, used his construction business to sell the stolen equipment, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Richards told unsuspecting buyers that he purchased the equipment from insurance companies, investigators said.

When the Sheriff’s Office found out the thefts spanned multiple states, it contacted the FBI.

The FBI was already doing a parallel investigation on this operation and was looking into Sanders.

The FBI arrested Sanders, and he was indicted.

Richards and Yopp were also arrested and face multiple charges. Redd has warrants out for his arrest, but his location is unknown.

Investigators said members of this organization stretched from Charleston to Savannah to Suwannee and Columbia counties.

The investigation is ongoing by all agencies involved, including the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office and Live Oak Police Department.

From left to right: Robert Sanders, Matthew Yopp, Tony Richards and Joshua Redd (Provided by Suwannee County Sheriff's Office)