Paisley man arrested in theft of fernery sprinklers

Anthony Markgraf

Anthony Markgraf

Jamie Shipp

Jamie Shipp

A Paisley man was arrested Wednesday on charges of stealing hundreds of brass sprinkler heads from a DeLand-area fernery, causing the loss of about $30,000 in ferns during the busy Valentine’s Day sales season, according to the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office.

Anthony Markgraf, 21, is charged with multiple counts of grand theft, dealing in stolen property, and violations of the secondhand metal recycler act, along with charges of burglary and criminal mischief in the case at John Puckett Ferneries.

Sheriff’s Office spokesman Andrew Gant said deputies responded to a fernery field off Richfern Road and West Plymouth Avenue in DeLand on Jan. 31, after a field manager noticed 60 sprinkler heads were missing.

As a result of the interruption in irrigation, the lost fern crop was estimated at $30,000.

Deputies and detectives with the Sheriff’s Office began contacting area scrap-metal yards in an attempt to identify a suspect, Gant said.

One scrap yard recalled a man attempting to sell two buckets full of sprinkler heads in late January, who was turned down because he didn’t have any proof of ownership.

“At another scrap yard, though, it was discovered Markgraf (a frequent customer) scrapped several 5-gallon buckets of sprinklers on two occasions,” said Gant.

The owner of the fernery estimated the total number of sprinklers stolen was 2,500, with a total value of $62,500.

About 60 sprinklers were operational in the field, with the rest stored inside a barn.

Deputies located Markgraf and his girlfriend Jamie Shipp on Wednesday.

Both were also wanted on additional charges of grand theft in a separate case — stolen wire and polymers from a DeLand-area Duke Energy substation, according to Gant.

On top of that, when Shipp was taken into custody and searched, deputies discovered she was in possession of stolen credit cards in another case, a DeLand-area burglary, Gant said.

Markgraf was taken to the Volusia County Branch Jail, where he was being held Thursday on $75,000 bond.

Shipp was also in custody at the jail Thursday, with $20,000 bond on her charges of grand theft and possession of stolen credit cards.

— Anthony DeFeo,

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