Crime

Columbia Police say men used fraudulent credit card to buy $25,000 worth of lawn mowers

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Ameren Illinois gives tips on how to avoid scams after metro-east communities are being targeting with fake utility bills.
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Ameren Illinois gives tips on how to avoid scams after metro-east communities are being targeting with fake utility bills.

Police are investigating several cases of lawn equipment theft with false credit cards in Missouri and Illinois, the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department said Monday.

In a news release, Capt. Bruce Fleshren wrote that around 1:15 p.m. last Friday, deputies responded to Bi-County Small Engine Repair at 7779 Illinois 158 in Columbia in reference to a theft.

The owner reported that two men in their 20s or 30s came into the store and bought two zero-turn lawn mowers and two weed trimmers for more than $25,000, the release stated. The credit card they used at the time was cleared through the system, but later it was determined that the card was fraudulent.

The men left the store in a white Chevrolet with dealer plates on it that was pulling an enclosed trailer with orange weed eaters attached on the outside, the release stated.

The following day, a different suspect came into the store, driving a different car and talking about making a similar purchase. According to the release, the suspect left before deputies could arrive.

The suspect was stopped by Columbia police and taken into custody on other charges, the release stated.

The release stated there are similar cases in Missouri and Illinois where suspects have purchased large amounts of equipment with fraudulent cards. Fleshren said the investigation is just starting to determine if the cases and suspects are related.

Anyone with information can call the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department at 618-825-5734.

Hana Muslic has been a public safety reporter for the Belleville News-Democrat since August 2018, covering everything from crime and courts to accidents, fires and natural disasters. She is a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s College of Journalism and her previous work can be found in The Lincoln Journal-Star and The Kansas City Star.
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