Lawn Care Rival Accused In Snow Plow Thefts 12-06-2010 - WNEM TV 5

Lawn Care Rival Accused In Snow Plow Thefts 12-06-2010

Landscaping isn't an easy business, whether the weather is warm or cold, but for two Mid-Michigan lawn care businesses, it got especially rough when their competitors took their equipment.
Eric Oswald owns a snow removal business in Carrollton. He said he panicked Sunday when he couldn't find the front end snow plow he had left outside of his shop.
"I was extremely worried because it's critical to my business," Oswald said.
Oswald learned he wasn't the only business missing equipment right before the week's predicted snowfall. That same day, a few miles away, Rob Garpiel reported a similar plow had been stolen from one of his off-site repair shops.
In both instances, the companies are located in isolated industrial parks. The thefts happened Saturday night, and because of their size, both owners said only someone in the industry could have ripped off the plows so quickly. Each plow weighs 1,000 pounds and costs nearly $13,000.
And when the truck was stolen from Garpiel's, it was taken before a worker had replaced a leaky hose.
"He also noticed that there were hydraulic oil stains in the parking lot and down the road,” said Garpiel. “He got in his truck and followed the oil stains like a hound dog."
The stains led to Ope's Lawn Care and Snow Removal in Saginaw and it's where police said they found both of the missing plows.
TV5 went looking for the owner of Ope’s Lawn Care, but the person who answered said the owner, Andrew Opalewski, wasn't available. TV5 then drove to the main office in Saginaw Township, but it was locked and no one answered.
"I'm upset with the whole thing, that this even had to happen," said Oswald.
"It's frustrating to know that one of our direct competitors in the area is operating where someone in the organization is taking property to benefit himself and put us in grave jeopardy."
A lawyer for Ope's prohibited the owner from talking with TV5, but late Monday, the Saginaw County Sheriff's department confirmed that an employee, not the owner, is the target of their investigation.
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