A Trenton man stole an excavator and crashed it into several different properties, including the Walmart on Southwest 42nd Street, according to a police report. Nobody was injured.
Jesse Smith, 47, faces charges of grand theft, criminal mischief, resisting arrest and armed trespassing. He allegedly caused an estimated $2 million in property damage. There is no bond set for Smith.
Smith stole a yellow Komatsu excavator — a construction vehicle with a large pole and claw at the end, typically used to pick up dirt or other objects — from a Watson Construction site on Southwest 47th Street. The excavator was worth about $350,000. After hot-wiring the vehicle, Smith drove through a chain link fence on the north side of the property, according to the arrest report.
Smith then crashed into several buildings on Watson Construction’s property before extending the boom of the excavator onto the roof of some nearby buildings to inflict more damage. After destroying four buildings, Smith forced his way out of the property through building debris on the southeast corner.
The northeast fence of the Storage Depot of Gainesville was Smith's next victim after he drove through it, causing underground damage as well.
While on the storage depot’s property, Smith drove the excavator over the utility pole of Swamp City Fitness, which caused the pole to fall down with live wires. He then drove over a current transformer meter (measures the electrical current in a building) belonging to Swamp City Fitness before crashing and knocking over another light pole in the Walmart parking lot, according to the report.
Smith caused more exterior damage to Walmart after crashing into the wall of a loading dock. He then drove the excavator into the south side wall of Walmart before leaving the vehicle with a machete, according to Gainesville police.
After entering Walmart, Smith discarded the machete before police confronted him. He resisted arrest and refused to place his hands behind his back.
Smith previously did time for stealing a $303 chainsaw and pawning it off for $100 eight years ago.
Contact Jordan Ramos at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JordanR68971799.
Jordan Ramos is a fourth-year journalism major and the Fall 2023 criminal justice reporter for the Alligator. In his free time, he can be found singing with his acappella group.