While out on a routine traffic stop, a Polk County Sheriff’s Office deputy spotted a car hauling a trailer with no license plate and no tail lights.
The detective pulled over the SUV in the highway in Polk County, and, according to a news release, found the driver had an illegal purpose for his incognito mode.
A transfer fuel pump, bolt cutters, pipe wrench and glove were sitting on the car’s back seat. The driver, 47-year-old Donald Fowler, of Mulberry, was driving with a suspended license and a 500-gallon plastic tank attached to his trailer.
Deputies said Fowler told them he was in the area looking for fuel to steal. After investigating, deputies found Fowler had already done it — from state Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam’s family business.
Fowler broke into a pump shed in Citrus Grove in Bartow and removed 60 gallons of diesel fuel, police said. He was arrested Sunday and remains in jail, where he’s not eligible for bond.
“Diesel fuel thefts are an ongoing problem in our agricultural areas,” said Grady Judd, Polk County’s Sheriff. “Our deputy did a great job preventing another theft from happening.”
Fowler is charged with operating an unregistered motor vehicle, knowingly driving with a suspended license, trespassing in an orange grove, possession of burglary tools, petty theft and burglary of a structure.
Deputies found Fowler also had two active warrants for not appearing in court and for not showing up for work release, so they charged with him with that. Fowler’s criminal background includes eight felonies and 21 misdemeanors.
In 2005, he was sentenced to a year and a day in prison for grand theft. In 2012, he was sentenced to a year and 3 months for possession of methamphetamine, according to the Florida Department of Corrections.