Trenton man who hijacked an excavator caused an estimated $2 million in property damage


Police say a Trenton man stole construction equipment and went on a destructive spree just after 10 p.m. Monday causing an estimated $2 million in property damage to four businesses, according to early estimates.

Police say Jesse Charles Smith, 47, hot-wired an excavator at a construction site and drove it through a chain link fence leaving a trail of damage to property in his wake. Police say Smith drove into buildings and extended the boom of the excavator onto the roofs of adjacent buildings inflicting more damage.

Smith continued to drive the excavator through business parking lots knocking down utility poles and leaving live wires behind, police said in a report.

Smith then crashed the excavator into the southwest wall of the Walmart in Butler Plaza, where police say he abandoned the excavator and entered the store armed with a machete. Police said Smith eventually discarded the machete.

Police say Smith has been charged with one count of grand theft, four counts of criminal mischief, one count of armed trespassing and one count of resisting arrest without violence.

Smith has a criminal record that includes several theft charges and charges of dealing in stolen property, among others, filed against him in recent years, but no convictions.

About Christopher Will

Christopher is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing

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