Two horses stolen near Ave Maria, could be connected to theft ring

Collier County investigators say two horses were stolen, and the suspects are individuals who have tried to steal several others in the area. Law enforcement wants help from the public to identify the suspects who stole the animals.

On Sunday, Collier County Sheriff’s Office responded to the reports of two stolen horses along Immokalee Road and Sanctuary Road between Ave Maria and Orange Tree in Collier County.

According to the CCSO Facebook post, the suspects cut the horse owner’s fence to take them — a brown Bay gelding with a black mane and tail and a spotted Appaloosa gelding with white and brown spots. The Apaloosa also has a heart-shaped brand on its left hip.

A friend of the owner, who works very closely with the two horses, said this crime looked strategically planned.

“They loved their owner. They loved their life,” friend Alithea Arcia said. “To be taken away and not know what’s going on is very sad, and it’s sickening. At this point, it hurts.”

Deputies think this crime is connected to another attempted livestock theft from Tuesday, Oct. 1.

“They were there with a horse trailer at three in the morning, and there was horses,” Arcia said. “It’s pretty clear on what they were intending to do.”

Suspects’ vehicle and trailer. Credit: via Collier County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page.

The sheriff’s office said the suspects in that case were driving a vehicle similar to a black Ford F-450 crew cab with a black flatbed work body. It was hauling a Gooseneck trailer with three axles.

Arcia and the owner said whoever stole the horses wanted them for their meat.They hope it’s not too late and want everyone to be on the lookout.

Anyone with information can contact Sgt. David Estes with the agriculture bureau at 239-253-4087.

“This is a good lesson, and it hits close to home,” Arcia said. “Hopefully, we can get this to stop and get these people.”

Reporter:Taylor Smith
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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