Linden Men Facing Charges For Stolen Stuffed Alligator
Three men facing felony charges after resident follows trail to mudbogging event.
A Hartland man tracked down three suspects who are accused of stealing his 14-foot stuffed alligator, discovering it had been tied to the roof of a pickup during an off-road "mudbogging" event, according to Livingston County Sheriff Bob Bezotte.
The man, 34, found the gator gone from his Deerfield Township pole barn in the 11000 block of White Road on June 25 at about 8:50 p.m. — the third recent break-in on his property, according to Bezotte. Next, he followed the footprints and tire tracks to the nearby event where vehicles with large tires power through mud for sport. He took photographs and asked the suspects where they got the gator.
Bezotte said the suspects told the man differing stories while he was able to ID the alligator as his. The man then called police, who after their own investigation later arrested the trio — Linden residents Roy A. Griffith, 60 and Douglas E. Ward, 55 and Harrison resident John E. Sanborn, 53. Bezotte said the men all had blood alcohol levels exceeding the legal limit of 0.08, the sheriff said. Ward was at 0.4, Sanborn 0.32 and Griffith at 0.29, he said.
"I was really impressed with the homeowner," he said. "He did a fabulous job. He wasn't confrontational. He didn't take action himself. He called police and let us do our job."
The men now are facing breaking and entering, larceny from a building and possession of stolen property charges. The gator is valued at $5,000.
They are all scheduled for a preliminary examination July 27 in Livingston County District Court before Judge Carol Sue Reader to determine whether there is enough evidence for the case to proceed, according to court records. Ward and Sanborn are currently in jail while Griffith is free on a $10,000 personal recognizance bond.
Bezotte said police are still investigating the previous break-ins, but believes they are related. The men have not been charged in those cases.
"We think what happened here is these guys saw the alligator and got this bright idea after they've been drinking too much — hey let's get this alligator and they tied to their truck and thought it was funny. That's eventually what got them caught," Bezotte said. "Thank god we got them before they got on the road."