Expensive equipment mistaken for trash

HOUSTON Larry Hayes has nothing to show for the $4,000 he paid to a friend to buy a machine.

"It wasn't on the curb," he said. "It wasn't in the street. It didn't even look like trash."

Hayes says he bought the seven-foot high, 3,100 pound milling machine from a friend. The two of them dragged it down to the end of the driveway with a pickup truck last Wednesday, and left to go rent a forklift to move it into Hayes' trailer.

"When I got back, no machine," Hayes said.

A neighbor saw what happened.

Hayes recalled, "I was kind of agitated and I ran up there and I said, 'Where'd the machine go? Somebody stole the machine.' And she said, 'No, heavy trash picked it up.' And I said, 'Today's not heavy trash day!'"

A City of Houston solid waste department spokesman says heavy trash crews pick up things from the end of driveways a lot and that's why the mistake was made.

Gary Readore with the City of Houston said, "That's a typical location a lot of residents leave heavy trash, so it's an unfortunate incident."

What about the fact that it was not heavy trash day?

"They say there's more material out there than they can collect during that day, they do go back the next day," Readore explained.

The City of Houston says Hayes can likely recoup at least some of the money he paid, and says next time, he should leave a note, even if it is not heavy trash day. But Hayes is still upset.

Hayes said, "A very delicate machine designed to make parts down to the tenth of a thousandth of an inch and they somehow interpreted that as heavy trash, and it wasn't even heavy trash day?"

Before the city's solid waste department admitted to having picked up the machine, Larry Hayes had also filed a police report. Houston police said it would be assigned to burglary and theft.

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