Cops: Man buried watercraft in yard

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
It may be a while before a Dacula man can dig himself out of trouble.
State Department of Natural Resources officers have charged Grady Standridge, 52, with three counts of unlawful dumping after unearthing personal watercraft that were buried in his backyard off South Street.
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Standridge was arrested in Gwinnett County on Feb. 2 on charges of theft by receiving and possessing a vessel with a counterfeit hull identification number.
Cpl. Eric Sanders, a law enforcement officer for the state DNR, took out the additional unlawful dumping charges two days later, when he went to Standridge’s property looking for two stolen personal watercrafts. Those particular vehicles weren’t there, however the officer said he noticed a handlebar sticking out of the ground.
Heavy equipment was brought in to dig and Sanders soon discovered three water vehicles were buried in the backyard. It was unclear whether those vehicles were stolen. However, it was an environmental hazard to bury them because gasoline could leach into the ground, Sanders said.
Sanders said he sees a lot in his line of work, but “this is the strangest thing I’ve ever been involved in.”
Standridge also faces five felony counts of forgery in Walton County. When Standridge was asked why he buried the water crafts, Sanders said he shrugged off the question.
“He goes ‘I don’t know, I just buried ‘em,’” Sanders said.
The case is one of the first investigations by the new Marine Theft Unit of the Department of Natural Resources’ Law Enforcement Section. The unit was created in July, said DNR spokeswoman Jennifer Barnes. Each month, the Marine Theft Unit compiles information about stolen watercraft and distributes it to DNR law enforcement to be on the lookout for them, she said.