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Major John Allard, PIO Office, 785-2415, 24-Hour Press Box: 799-2001, Ext. 1100

Deputies Arrest Two Men for Stealing Backhoe and Damaging Athletic Field

Lexington County Sheriff’s Department deputies arrested a 20-year-old Columbia man and a 27-year-old Columbia man on Sunday, May 25 on charges that the two men stole a combination front-end loader and backhoe that is owned by a construction company and used the vehicle to dig holes and otherwise damage an athletic field at Seven Oaks Park at 200 Leisure Lane near Irmo. The Irmo Chapin Recreation Commission owns and operates the park.

Lexington County Sheriff James R. Metts said deputies arrested Dylan Bridger Bennett, 20, of 119 Northman Drive, Columbia, on charges of grand larceny, malicious injury to personal property, criminal conspiracy and public disorderly conduct. Bennett was released from the Lexington County Detention Center on Monday, May 26 after Bennett posted bail totaling $6,262.

Deputies arrested Matthew C. Downs, 27, of 224 Linsbury Circle, Columbia, on charges of grand larceny, malicious injury to personal property and criminal conspiracy, Metts said. Downs was released from the county Detention Center on Monday after Downs posted bail totaling $6,000.

Arrest warrants allege that Bennett and Downs entered Seven Oaks Park at about 1:12 a.m. on Sunday, entered a fenced maintenance area that was secured with a padlock and stole an EZ Go Golf Cart that was worth about $2,500, Metts said. Bennett and Downs also entered a fenced construction area that was under the control of Penn Contractors and “hotwired” the combination front-end loader and backhoe that was worth more than $10,000.

Arrest warrants further allege that Bennett and Downs drove the combination front-end loader and backhoe through the fence for the construction area, causing about $2,500 in damages, Metts said.

In addition, arrest warrants allege that Bennett and Downs used the combination front-end loader and backhoe to dig holes and scrape up grass turf on one soccer field at the park, causing damages of between $2,000 and $10,000, Metts said.

At about 1:12 a.m. on Sunday, deputies went to Seven Oaks Park in order to investigate a report that two persons were using a golf cart and backhoe to damage the soccer field at the park, Metts said. Deputies found the golf cart and combination front-end loader and backhoe abandoned in the park.

One deputy drove to Linsbury Circle, parked his marked patrol car and walked towards woods that are adjacent to Linsbury Circle and Seven Oaks Park, Metts said. The deputy encountered Bennett as Bennett walked out of the woods from the park. The deputy determined that Bennett had been drinking beer and appeared to be under the influence of alcohol. The deputy arrested Bennett.

Another deputy found Downs at Seven Oaks Park and arrested Downs, Metts said. The deputy found the golf cart and combination front-end loader and backhoe parked on the soccer field. The combination front-end loader and backhoe was parked in a goal on the field. A metal bicycle rack was entangled in the undercarriage of the vehicle.


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