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SUSPECT ARRESTED IN THEFT OF $60,000+ IN FERNERY SPRINKLERS
Thefts also resulted in loss of $30,000 in ferns just before Valentine’s Day rush
Volusia County sheriff’s deputies have arrested a suspect accused of stealing hundreds of brass sprinkler heads from a DeLand-area fernery – causing the loss of about $30,000 in ferns during the busy Valentine’s Day sales season.
Anthony Markgraf, 21 (DOB 6/8/1996), of Paisley, is charged with multiple counts of grand theft, dealing in stolen property and violations of the second-hand metal recycler act, along with charges of burglary and criminal mischief in the case at John Puckett Ferneries.
Deputies responded to a fernery field off Rich Fern Road and West Plymouth Avenue in DeLand on Jan. 31, after a fern field manager noticed 60 sprinkler heads were missing. The interruption in water caused catastrophic losses to the fern, which was wilted and brown. The loss was estimated at $30,000.
Deputies and detectives began contacting area scrap metal yards in an attempt to identify a suspect. One scrap yard recalled a man attempting to sell two buckets full of sprinkler heads in late January. He was turned down because he didn’t have any proof of ownership. At another scrap yard, though, it was discovered Markgraf (a frequent customer) scrapped several 5-gallon buckets of sprinklers on two occasions.
The owner estimated the total number of sprinklers stolen was 2,500, with a total value of $62,500. About 60 of them were operational in the field, with the rest stored inside a barn.
On Wednesday evening, deputies located Markgraf and his girlfriend Jamie Shipp. Both were also wanted on additional charges of grand theft in a separate case (stolen wire and polymers from a DeLand-area Duke Energy substation). And when Shipp was taken into custody and searched, deputies discovered she was in possession of stolen credit cards in yet another case, a DeLand-area burglary.
Markgraf was taken to the Volusia County Branch Jail, where he was being held Thursday on $75,000 bond. Shipp was also in custody at the jail Thursday, with $20,000 bond on her charges of grand theft and possession of stolen credit cards.