POLK COUNTY, Fla. – A Haines City man, 26-year-old James Blight, was arrested on Saturday after stealing a front-end loader from a construction site and damaging property.
According to police, the call was received at 1:30 p.m. and he was located in the area of Hinson Avenue and South Third Street while operating the equipment. The equipment had been taken from a construction site at U.S. 27 and Main Street. He was not authorized to take the equipment nor to operate it.
Throughout the investigation, investigators learned that Blight took out a private chain link fence and several political signs. He also took out a city-owned speed limit sign.
Blight told police that he had been drinking whiskey all day and did not remember most of the day. He said that he couldn’t help but hit the Joe Biden signs and acknowledged to taking down a fence in the process. Blight said he did not know how to operate the equipment.
Haines City Police Chief Jim Elensky said, “It’s absurd that a grown man could think he had the right to destroy someone else’s property based on a difference in political opinion. The fact that he was driving this heavy equipment, that he did not know how to operate, down busy roads could have been disastrous. We’re thankful that no one was hurt in this matter.”
He is being charged with grand theft greater than $20,000, criminal mischief of $1,000 or more, and trespassing on a construction site. Further charges are pending regarding the private property damage. He was arrested and transported to the Polk County Jail. The investigation is ongoing.