Armed thieves targeting lawn care workers for expensive equipment

ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) - Police say a man armed with a gun stole a grass trimmer while workers were taking care of a homeowner's yard. People in the lawn care business say these crimes have been going on all over the area for weeks.

The grass trimmers the pros use can cost cost up to $500. It's a big hit economically when one is stolen. People wonder just how desperate criminals are getting.

Police say Heather Shinall and Brian Stahl were in the St. Louis Hills neighborhood when it happened. Heather was in the pickup watching Brian's daughter. A man with a gun stole their grass trimmer and took off in a green Ford Explorer. Heather says she took out her own gun to protect the kids but did not fire at the armed man.

People at Affton Lawn Equipment say they've had as many as 16 lawn care workers come in the last month to report their equipment was ripped off. They say there was a second case in which the thief also had a gun. Thieves are stealing grass trimmers and backpack blowers.

St. Louis Police say they know who the man is. He is wanted for similar crimes and has a parole violation. They are calling the incident a theft since he didn't point the gun at the people.