HECTOR, N.Y. (18 NEWS) - Schuyler County Highway Officials said a massive piece of construction equipment was stolen from the side of the road in the Town of Hector.

"The equipment was left on the side of the road Wednesday night when we were done working," Highway Superintendent Ken Thurston said. "It was locked and the keys were taken out of the equipment."

Thurston said neighbors noticed the 20 ton excavator was missing from its resting spot on the side of County Route 1 over the weekend.
"They noticed the machine was missing Saturday morning and it was there Friday night," Thurston said.

Despite the fact that the machine is worth about $200,000 it's usually left on site to save time and money.

However, there is a risk to leaving a specific type of excavator out overnight.
"All CAT equipment, any key can start any piece of CAT equipment so if somebody had that piece of equipment they would have access to it," Thurston said.

Schuyler County Sheriff's Investigators don't have any suspects yet. However, Thurston said there was one clue left behind that could help authorities narrow their search. The teeth marks found in the road where the excavator was presumably loaded onto a tractor trailer may indicate that the thief or thieves had experience with the machine.

"It's something specialized that not everybody can run, especially the way we believe it was loaded it would take an experienced operator to do so," Thurston said.

As for a motive, Thurston said there could be a number of reasons why someone would want to steal the machine.
"If they own a construction or a farm, sure," he said. "Or there's retail value out there for them if they wanted to take it someplace away from here and sell it, it would be of value."

In the meantime Thurston said he and his crews will look for other ways to get the equipment they need to continue working.
"Next step would be to borrow equipment from other municipalities, or possibly rent a piece of equipment," he said.

Thurston said because the excavator is an older model there isn't any sort of tracking device built into it.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Schuyler County Sheriff's Department at (607) 535-8222.

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