Thieves steal 7,500-lb construction equipment in Leesburg

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LEESBURG, Fla. - Leesburg police are searching for thieves who stole a 7,500-pound construction loader Sunday morning.

Police said they have hit a number of businesses along South Street and U.S. 27, but the loader from the 7-Eleven construction site is a massive piece to steal.

Leo Green of Atlantic Site Development said the thieves hauled it away at about 1 a.m. Sunday.

"It slows down the business, and we're struggling like everybody else, and just to take your livelihood away … some thieves. They say they come in the night. That's what they did," Green said.

The business thefts along U.S. 27 have Leesburg police stepping up patrols. Investigators believe a group of people may be behind the bold thefts on the busy stretch of road.

There is a security camera at the end of the street. It didn't catch the thieves in the act, but it did catch their headlights. As they drove in, the lights reflected off a tree. They drove out 15 minutes later and appeared to be in no hurry.

"They took the bucket, the attachments and everything. They wasn't scared of getting caught. You can't do that in five minutes. They took at least 15 minutes," Green said.

They also left behind some evidence -- a pile of brick pavers Green believes the thieves dumped from their trailer to make room for his expensive piece of hardware.

Atlantic Site Development is offering a $2,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of whoever stole their loader.