OCALA, Fla. - Authorities in Ocala are searching for thieves who stole $40,000 worth of farm equipment from a man who uses it to teach children about nature.
The farm sits next to Grace Christian School on Southeast Third Avenue in Ocala.
Officials said the thieves made off with multiple pieces of equipment, including a tractor. They believe the suspects used the tractor to plow through the woods and knock down trees as they were trying to get away.
A Gator truck and a heavy duty lawnmower were also stolen in what investigators said was a well-organized plan.
Investigators said the thieves cut the lock on the fence, drove to through the soccer field and parked and then walked through the woods and cut through a fence. The thieves then got the equipment, loaded it up and took off.
Farm owner Richard Sherman donates the equipment to students from all over Marion County for educational programs.
George Raymond with Grace Christian School said Sherman is converting the farm to model those from the 1940s.
Raymond said there are experimental crops and Sherman is working to build sleeping quarters, so underprivileged kids can come and spend time on the farm.
Officials are offering a reward for any information in the case.