MONROE, N.C. -- Investigators believe the same group of people is responsible for multiple thefts at farm and yard equipment stores in Union County.
The thefts are costing the businesses thousands of dollars, plus they’re spending thousands of dollars trying to protect their stores.
Whitley Power Equipment in Monroe has had three attempted break-ins so far this year and one successful one.
"I was like ‘wow, really’” said employee Ben McAlister.
McAlister remembers the shock when he opened the door to a since torn-down outbuilding and found nearly $12,000 worth of customers' weed eaters, lawn mowers and leaf blowers stolen.
"They came through the fence right there at the corner of the gate and unbolted a fence,” McAlister said.
Whitley Power Equipment ended up replacing the stolen equipment out of their own pockets because customer equipment isn’t covered by insurance.
"It did hurt, but it made the customers happy,” McAlister said.
Now, Whitley Power Equipment is trying to return that shocking experience for anyone else trying to steal from them.
The owners spent $24,000 on a fence with 7,000 volts of electricity running through it.
"It's enough to knock them back. They're not going to touch the fence and keep touching it,” McAlister said.
At Brooks Sales, three people with towels covering their heads pulled up early Wednesday morning and loaded a $10,000 RTV into a trailer.
Union County investigators released pictures, hoping someone recognizes the truck and trailer so they can put the thieves behind bars.
Investigators think it's likely the same group of thieves targeting both Whitley Power Equipment and Brooks Sales because the modes of operation are similar.
Brooks Sales has placed guardrails around their property, added cameras and alarms and say they've spent a good bit of money trying to fight theft.
It’s a battle they're still fighting.
Whitley Power Equipment and Brooks Sales have had equipment stolen from them a combined 11 times since 2009.
That doesn't include times thieves tried to steal equipment but took off instead.