Hot Tubs Stolen at Truck Stop Follow Up
By Dan Breitwieser, TV 20 News
Marion County detectives credit an anonymous tip leading to the break in the case.
Deputies say 15 hot tubs packaged on a tractor trailer were stolen Sunday morning from the Petro truck stop in Orange Lake. Truck driver Robert Blanks Jr. got the news Tuesday morning that deputies had spotted the trailer between Williston and Bronson using a helicopter.
"It makes me a little at ease," says Blanks. "I'm still not happy. I'm still ready to get the heck out of here."
Royce Charles "Chuck" Brower, 40, has been charged with cargo theft.
No one was at the Brower home Tuesday morning on NE 121st Terrace. Deputies found the missing trailer in the street out front of the house, 1 hot tub in Brower's yard, and a second stolen trailer parked on the side of the road. They say he was using the metal from the trailers to sell for salvage.
Brower led deputies to a friend's house in southeast Levy County where they found 12 more hot tubs, also still wrapped up in the blue and white plastic packaging from the trailer. But Tommy McKay didn't know he was holding "hot" hot tubs for his friend.
"I had no idea that he stole them," says McKay. "He (Brower) just came up to me with the deputies, crying and apologizing, 'I'm sorry Tommy. I didn't meant to lie to you'."
Brower helped deputies locate the last two hot tubs at his mother's home in Ocala.
The hot tubs and the trailer have a combined value of $110,000.
Brower told deputies he had become addicted to illegal drugs which was why he stole the trailer.
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