A little cultivation by Stanislaus County sheriff’s detectives produced the arrests of a father and son suspected of stealing a tractor.
The tale begins in October when farm equipment was stolen in Oakdale, according to Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Capt. Tim David. The items included the tractor — valued at $3,000 — plus a riding lawn mower and other items.
A few weeks later, an anonymous tip led detectives to a ranchette in the 100 block of Missouri Avenue in Waterford, where they spotted the tractor, David said.
To catch the thieves and boost their chances of building a strong case, detectives waited in hopes of finding someone on the tractor. They checked the property and the tractor periodically over the next few weeks with no luck, David said.
Finally, on Monday, a detective knocked on the front door of the home and told the person who answered he was interested in buying the tractor. The man said he didn’t own it, but knew who did. The detective left his name and number.
About 30 minutes later, Tyler Benson, 21, of Riverbank, called the detective, investigators said. After negotiating for the next day or so, the men settled on a price and agreed to meet at the corner of Geer Road and Yosemite Boulevard, David said.
Before finalizing the deal, Benson said he had to check with another person about the price, leading investigators to believe there was a second person involved.
On Tuesday, the detective showed up at Geer and Yosemite at the designated time. Benson, along with his father, Steven Benson, 43, of Riverbank, were in a truck with the Kubota tractor parked alongside it.
Detectives talked with the Bensons, and other officers arrived and arrested them. They were booked into Stanislaus County Jail on charges of receiving stolen property.
David said no other property was recovered. He also said the man who answered the door on Missouri Avenue had no knowledge of the alleged theft and would not be prosecuted.