City of Conway's tractor impounded after DUI arrest - - Columbia, South Carolina

City’s tractor impounded after DUI arrest

Timothy Bessant was arrested for DUI on the tractor that belongs to the city. (Source: Dillon County Detention Center) Timothy Bessant was arrested for DUI on the tractor that belongs to the city. (Source: Dillon County Detention Center)

CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - The tractor reported missing by the City of Conway over a month ago was found in an impound lot in the next county, left there after a drunken drive in the moonlight.

The 2008 JD-6415 John Deere tractor was left at a job site off of New Road in Conway on Oct. 3. When city workers with the Conway Street Department returned to the site the next morning, the tractor was gone.

"The tractor is gone! We thought we'd missed-placed a whole tractor and come to find out it was stolen. We were lucky to get it back," said Tony Collins. He does vehicle maintenance work for the city of Conway.

It turns out, the tractor went for a little joy ride down Highway 38, which crosses Interstate 95 through Latta, around 1:30 a.m. on the same day it was reported missing.

"I service the tractors every morning and I realized the tractor was gone" Collins said. "I talked to some of the workers and then called my supervisor to let him know: 'we have a problem here.'''

The South Carolina Highway Patrol arrested 48-year-old Timothy Bessant of Conway for driving under the influence and impounded the tractor in Truck Service Center of Florence where it remained until the City of Conway was notified on Monday.

They spent over a month of searching for the expensive piece of machinery, and traveled to Florence on Tuesday to retrieve it.

Vehicle Maintenance Supervisor Mitchell Rabonn hauled the tractor back to Conway Tuesday.

"It's just dangerous. It's unbelievable they would even drive on the highway with something like that at night," Rabbon said.

"These tractors cost about $75,000 so it's an expensive piece of equipment," says Sgt. Selena Small, a spokesperson for the Conway Police Department.

"We haven't filed anything with insurance or anything along those lines because we [were] still hopeful someone will come forward and we will be able to recover the actual equipment," says Sgt. Small.

The city said they were waiting to make a claim because they don't want the cost to fall on tax payers, and now they won't have too.

"We depend on city taxes, it's what helps us go about every day. So it's really stealing from the community," says Sgt. Small.

When it was first reported missing, police in Conway offered a $1,000 reward for information that could help locate the city's tractor or lead to an arrest of the person responsible for taking it.

They were not sure why someone would steal the tractor, or even how they were able to take it, and initially thought it may have been taken for scrap parts.

"We do have times where people will tear them apart and scrap them, just like people do with vehicles," explains Sgt. Small.

"When you steal something worth that much money, even if you only get half of that, you still get a gain from it," says Sgt. Small.

They have not commented on whether they will be filing charges for theft, because the City of Conway is unsure who actually took the tractor before the man took it for a midnight stroll.

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